Warning of UK power shortages – are you safe from DRUPS failure?

August 7th, 2014

Mayor of London warns PM of electricity shortages in the near future

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London used the Sunday Times to warn that the lights in London could be dimmed or go out altogether because of a failure to invest in Britain’s energy infrastructure. With existing power stations already under pressure, demand is expected to double in the next 35 years. The energy watchdog Ofgem has also warned that maximum generating capacity could be just 2% above peak demand next year.

It is ludicrous that one of the world’s greatest cities faces an unacceptably high risk of brown or even blackouts,

It is a problem that has snuck up on London over many years but the levers in our power stations are already set to full whack and some very loud alarm bells are ringing in terms of how we provide the juice required for this city to cope with the incredible growth in population that is forecast.

Boris Johnson to The Sunday Times.

This should come as a stark warning to organisations (such as data centres, hospitals, banks and military bases) that depend on reliable and consistent power. But many organisations are unaware of the hidden danger lurking within their fuel storage tanks.

Typically organisations will rely on secondary generators (otherwise known as diesel rotary uninterruptible power supply (DRUPS) units) should the mains supply decrease (brownouts) or fail completely (blackouts). But they may not appreciate the risk of DRUPS failure if their fuel is not properly maintained.

Fuel maintenance prevents DRUPS failure

Typically a system will have enough fuel to power the load for hours or days in the event of mains power problems. 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 this also introduced 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 contamination, including:

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

Prevention is always better than a cure for clean fuel

The key to maintaining fuel quality is good housekeeping. IPU recommend that organisations employ a regular fuel maintenance programme to ensure that diesel-powered equipment runs reliably and economically.

This may sound complicated but it doesn’t have to be. IPU can assist you at every stage from initial fuel testing through to tank cleaning and ongoing maintenance. It’s the simple cost effective over replacing an entire DRUPS unit.