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Why you need to plan for power outages

The Blackout docudrama that was broadcast by Channel 4 last week may have seemed like vision-of-the-future TV to some, but that future is a lot closer than you might think.

Standby power specialist Dieselec Thistle was consulted by the programme makers to help ensure that the scenarios portrayed were accurate. Unfortunately, the narrative is based on a very real threat of power outages in the near future.

It’s something that all construction contractors, building managers and business owners need to plan for, particularly those managing large sites that depend on business-critical power week after week.

Specifiers should also be looking at the energy supply contingency requirements of their projects. While the growth in renewables may be helping to reduce new buildings’ dependence on the grid, increased reliance on electronic and internet-based systems means that a standby power supply is becoming an increasingly essential part of the services installation across a wide gamut of sectors, including retail, hospitality, education, health and commercial, as well as technology-based businesses.

The latest Ofgem capacity report clearly outlines how increasing demand for energy, the decommissioning of coal-fired power stations and carbon reduction targets are combining to create the perfect storm with power cuts at its core.

The report predicts these cuts within two to three years and, with no clear strategy in place to replace the energy infrastructure that’s being decommissioned, the Blackout drama could simply be the prelude to the real-life drama that will play out if the construction sector doesn’t act now to safeguard schemes against it.

So what can you do to protect your projects and your business?

  • Carry out a risk assessment to understand your business-critical power needs on site and what the business interruption issues would be in the event of a failure;
  • Talk to a standby power specialist about auditing your business-critical load and the most cost-effective solution;
  • Ensure you consider the health and safety/noise implications of a standby power installation;
  • For longer programmes consider buying rather than renting diesel generators;
  • If designing or specifying a building, consider its energy requirements and factor in a suitable place to locate a standby power installation.

Brian Muirie is sales director at Dieselec Thistle Generators

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