Companies need to protect themselves against more and longer power outages

Receiving electricity is no longer a given in our country. Companies and households will need to allow for electrical grid blackouts as we move forward. Blackouts occur abruptly, which can negatively impact commercial activities and cause damage, e.g. to hardware.

Sooner or later, everyone will experience a blackout, i.e. a brief shutdown of the electrical grid. A few seconds without electricity rarely disrupts daily work activities. But what if your electricity is abruptly cut off for half an hour or even hours? This will certainly cause problems for companies. And the chance then becomes increasingly greater that the shutdown plan will go into effect. The main reason for this is that preventative maintenance will be carried out on some nuclear power stations in our country starting in November. This means that these power plants may not be able to provide a stable electricity supply and thus cause shortages.

Emergency brake

One of the scenarios discussed is that the grid operator pulls the emergency brake when there are shortages. This means that all companies and households in a particular region will find themselves in the dark without prior warning. Thereafter, the electricity supply will be started up again depending on priority. It will be uncertain how long a blackout will last. It could be minutes or even hours. The abruptness and long-term nature of a blackout can land companies in trouble. For example, hardware cannot always handle an abrupt shutdown, such as problems caused by a thermal effect. This may cause – really – serious problems when restarting the computer.

Economic impact

We should also consider the abrupt shutdown of machines in the manufacturing industry. For example, communication with the customer is interrupted for a time, which prevents orders or requested services being delivered. These are just a few examples that demonstrate that the economic impact on companies can be significant when they are not prepared for an abrupt shutdown of the electricity supply. And this certainly applies to smaller companies.

Are preventative measures possible?

Not against the shutdown, but certainly against the consequences. An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) ensures there is a continuous supply of electricity. A UPS ensures there are no hiccups during a power outage so that everything continues to run as usual. The first phase of a UPS takeover in a power outage provides enough time for a generator to start up and continue business operations. This prevents an uncontrolled shutdown and damage to databases, etc. In the event of a long-term power outage, a UPS also provides companies with enough time to properly shut down systems. A controlled shutdown prevents damage and the need for repairs after the event.

Hybrid grids

The maintenance of the nuclear power stations and the possible shortage of electricity is not the only reason why the electricity supply may not always be problem free in the coming years. The pressure in Belgium to ban nuclear energy and increase the use of renewable energy will destabilise the electricity grid. The use of renewables, such as solar and wind energy, is an excellent step towards a more sustainable life. And, the outcome in our country is that we are switching from central power plant production to a hybrid model. This means that there will be multiple – and unpredictable – energy sources connected to our electricity grid. The challenge will be to stabilise these electricity grids.

Both companies and consumers will need to allow for these changes. Simply put, the problem-free receiving of electricity is no longer a given.

Make sure that your IT-infrastructure continuous run as usual with an Eaton UPS.

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