“Brownout” equals Brown Pants

25 Apr “Brownout” equals Brown Pants

Brown Pant 2

For most Site Engineers and Facilities Managers, an event that strikes fear into the beating heart of anyone responsible for maintaining the integrity of electrical infrastructures in UK manufacturing is the term “Brownout”.

“Brownout” is the term used when the voltage power to a site typically dips below 214 volts, this invariably causes most equipment on site to trip, resulting in a catastrophic site wide plant shutdown.

Protecting critical infrastructure against “Brownout” traditionally requires the adoption of either diesel generator backup or an uninterrupted battery power supply that would kick in, hopefully within microseconds of the mains power tripping out. Nevertheless those recovery microseconds are still cause to hold one’s breath, as every Site Engineer and Facilities Manager knows.

The vast majority of UK industry has benefited in the past from a relatively stable electrical district network, however things are rapidly changing, mainly as a result of small scale renewable power technologies that are fundamentally reshaping and interrupting the traditional power network supply. Local DNO District Network Operators are struggling with this challenge.

Think Your immune ? Your Not

One of the greatest dangers that will cause a significant rise in “Brownouts” by 2020 and to remind ourselves that’s only three years time, will be the impact of EV electric vehicle charging.

Presently and for the foreseeable future UK Electric Car charging appears to be totally un-managed, and it is entirely possible that only a handful of electric vehicles charging in close proximity on the local district network would cause the system to crash even on a part of the network considered stable.

The question a company Site Engineer and Facilities Manager, but more importantly Financial Directors have to ask themselves, is at what impact to my business would such electrical interruptions cause to my manufacturing bottom line.

In others words

“How much could I lose in each “Brownout” event?”

The longer the “Brownout” the greater the loss.

Calculating the overall cost of these losses and not just focusing on the cost of purely preventative measures, but the infinitely larger cost of lost production.

In many the cost of lost production would eclipse the cost of “Brownout” prevention measures. As the American’s would say “You do the math”.

So to the bigger picture, small and large scale renewable technologies are rapidly interrupting the National Grid infrastructure, that was never originally designed for such disruption. As a result “Brownouts” will become more frequent by 2020 and it would be wrong not to recognise this fact.

Energy Storage systems that can respond instantaneously to a “Brownout” event when required, but in the intervening meantime are able to produce a separate income stream from DSR and FFR incentives offered by National Grid, at the same time protecting against “Brownout”.

It is possible to shed the maintenance cost and headache of traditional UPS, or backup generators by switching to an Energy Storage system, Financial Directors note: this is how you flip a significant previous expense and turn it into an income on the company balance sheet.

The cost of Energy Storage systems when taken in consideration with the annual reported historical cost of lost production and lost profit over a 2 to 3 year period, more often than not makes Energy Storage systems cost neutral. So much so third party investors scrambled to offer ESCO finance arrangements to fund suitable projects.

If there is at all the potential a brownout would have undesirable consequences in your company, the do something about it, speak to an engineer at Brill Energy Commercial Services “Brownout” don’t have to automatically mean Brown Pants.


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