UK National Grid warns risk of blackouts is on the rise

In October 2014 we reported that the UK’s spinning reserve was down to just 4%, lowest in nearly a decade. Unfortunately this situation does not appear to be improving as the National Grid announced in July that spare capacity is set to drop to just 1.2%. For organisations that rely on consistent power for critical systems, this is bad news.

To meet tough European emission targets a number of UK coal fired power stations have been forced to close. It is this action that has caused the continued slide where just over four years ago the margin was as high as 17%.

The concern over power shortages has forced the National Grid to invest £36m to enable several plants remain on standby whilst pleading with some industries to switch off power during peak load periods.

This news should serve as warning to organisations such as data centres, hospitals, banks and military bases that depend on reliable and consistent power. Many are still unaware of the dangers lurking in the depths of their fuel tanks.

A typical back up system will have enough fuel to power the load for hours or days in the event of a blackout. But this fuel, which is often stored for long periods of time, actually comes with a limited shelf life.

In 2011 biofuel was introduced to improve the environmental impact of using diesel but with this comes a limited shelf life. If stored under normal conditions it can be expected to stay in a useable condition for 6-12 months. As it gets older it will suffer from three main types of contamination:

Depending on the type and severity of the contamination this can clog filters, damage engine injectors or cause total engine failure.

Prevention is always better than a cure for clean fuel

The key to maintaining fuel quality in stored diesel is a regular fuel conditioning programme. This ensures that diesel is kept within EN590 clean fuel standards and is able to run your engine reliably and economically.

But we know your job leaves you little time to worry about the condition of your stored fuel. You just want to know it works. You need 100% confidence that your backup generators will work reliably if mains power fails.

That’s where IPU comes in. Whether you run a bank, data centre or hospital we make sure your backup generators have the clean fuel they need to run on time, every time.

Contact the fuel team for more information on +44 (0) 121 511 0470 or via email at