Recently, there has been an increase in high profile incidents of energy-related failures throughout the leisure industry, something which could be set to continue if companies do not take steps to protect against it as the energy landscape evolves. The current energy network is experiencing fluctuations between supply and demand, making the system operator’s job of balancing the network more difficult, as energy consumption continues to rise in a technologically advancing and reliant world that is heading into its 4th industrial revolution (Industry 4.0).
Earlier this summer, the reality of energy failures and the chaos they can cause was witnessed nationally as news outlets reported that the operations of two large UK theme parks underwent severe disruption affecting not only the guests and staff in attendance, but also their reputation as a leisure provider.
Chessington World of Adventures was the first to suffer from a power cut, leading to guests left stranded and awaiting rescue from halted rollercoasters as the park went without power for over an hour.  Then, later in the Summer, Thorpe Park suffered from a power failure, with twitter reports stating that it lasted for as long as four hours on what was, at the time, the hottest day of the year.
The consequences, financially, operationally, and reputationally, of a lack of energy resilience are high for most companies but particularly for businesses which are so heavily reliant on exceptional guest satisfaction. This highlights the risks that businesses are leaving themselves exposed to by not acting to prevent energy-related failures.
The loss of power in these cases saw the theme parks receive less custom on the days of the power failures than they would ordinarily achieve, which is particularly damaging to a seasonal operator, but also deprived the guests of the ability to enjoy what should have been a fun-filled day spent riding the main attractions of the parks. Additionally, such failures are potentially endangering guest’s health and safety, as being stranded on a rollercoaster on a hot summer day is a stressful situation and undeniably uncomfortable.
Whilst the UK is already moving towards a future of greener, cleaner and more reliable energy, it is still in its infancy of transitioning from the antiquated, centralised network to a decentralised and decarbonised network.
Due to the need for the UK to decarbonise its energy network, greener sources, such as renewable energy, are contributing to a greater share of the energy mix. However, renewable energy is intermittent due to relying on uncontrollable factors such as the wind blowing or the sun shining, which leads to more challenges for the National Grid to balance supply and demand, especially considering additional challenges such as the forecasted rise in electric vehicles and the increase in energy consumption due to Industry 4.0. Consequently this is contributing to a less reliable energy network, highlighted by statistics which shows that the total unsupplied energy, the deficit between energy required and energy that was delivered, on the Great Britain network increased from 20.02MWh in 2015-2016 to 105.01MWh in 2016-2017.
This increasing rate in the unreliability of energy is even more concerning when considering what a lack of energy resilience can do to a business. It has been found that a single hour of downtime can cost a small business £800, which is scaled up accordingly for larger businesses, with typical medium-sized UK businesses potentially losing £2.8m each year in damages and lost opportunities following an energy-related failure.
Maximising leisure time with energy storage
One proven way of reducing the intermittency of renewable energy whilst simultaneously boosting energy resilience is through energy storage. This is because energy storage solutions can be utilised to store energy at times of excess generation which can then be utilised when the renewable energy is no longer generating to smooth its inherent peaks and troughs and maintain a consistent energy supply. Not only does this eliminate the intermittency for the grid, but it also maximises the use of renewable assets for the end users who own them, contributing towards carbon neutrality and helping to reduce energy costs.
Secondly, leading energy storage solutions, such as Powerstar VIRTUE, can provide full Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) capabilities. In the case of Powerstar VIRTUE, seamless UPS capabilities can be provided which provide support to the load within 9 milliseconds of an energy-related failure, therefore providing a site with increased energy resilience without the need for back up generation. This would allow sites which have multiple critical operations, such as theme parks, to negate energy-related failures whilst also allowing them to take advantage of the additional energy storage benefits such as revenue opportunities, energy cost savings, and carbon emission reductions.
Energy storage is a highly effective way of increasing energy resilience and is a simple investment which companies can make to help avoid the problems that have afflicted the leisure industry, and theme parks in particular, this summer.
10 August 2018
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 National Grid – National Electricity Transmission System Performance report 2016-2017
 Centrica Business Solutions – The Resilience Report