A growing number of sectors have either already embraced the need for Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) backup power, or are now turning to resilience solutions as the impact of power disruption becomes more frequent. Battery energy storage systems (BESS), rather than traditional, typically lead acid UPS, are growing in popularity, but some businesses may be put off due to much higher purchase and installation costs. However, it is important to look at the complete picture in terms of both savings over time and additional functionality. Particularly if you are likely to benefit from some of the other benefits of a BESS alongside power resilience, the sums start to look much more robust.
UPS vs BESS
Typically, BESS comes at a higher initial purchase and installation cost. This gap has been steadily closing, but in recent months the rapidly climbing price of raw materials, including lithium and cobalt, has hampered some of that progress towards price parity. Prices vary dependent on supplier, application, and size, but generally a BESS will cost around £200,000 more per MW than a traditional UPS. However, the biggest difference in terms of costs and savings is in the annual losses incurred by either system. Traditional UPS monitors grid and site conditions through a constant cycle of partial discharge and recharge. This allows it to detect changes in voltage instantaneously and provide emergency power before disruption is experienced. While effective for providing resilience, it also means a large amount of power is wasted through this process. Typically, a 1MW system can add up to £200,000 to your annual energy costs.
In contrast, a low-loss BESS used to provide UPS works as part of your wider site infrastructure, using intelligent control software to monitor power vectors and usage in real-time. As a result, losses for a leading BESS are limited to around £5,000 annually. It is important to bear in mind that not all BESS are suitable for providing emergency power, and those that do generally fall towards the top end in terms of initial cost. However, where both UPS and other battery energy storage functionality is needed, a system that can provide both will typically represent a saving of around 30% compared to commissioning a UPS backup and battery storage system separately. As sites become increasingly digitised, BESS also provides crucial, site-wide resilience. This ensures that not only critical infrastructure but all of your computer and digital systems, and vital data, are protected in the event of a power disruption. In contrast, most UPS systems are designed only to protect a single, critical system.