Power blackouts in business can range from a minor inconvenience to a major threat. Diggers slicing through power cables, extreme weather conditions bringing down power lines, or other local failures can all interrupt the supply of electricity.
So can failure at the power generating station. Although power grids are among the most protected and reliable structures anywhere, changes in the industry and the environment could make blackouts on the provider side increasingly likely.
The following list of factors influencing the future of power grid continuity may incite you to take another look at your own power backup solutions.
- Liberalisation and privatisation. Old-style power monopolies may have had at least one point in their favour. When everything is controlled by one entity, it becomes easier to manage the interfaces between power generation and transmission, and hard to point the finger at someone else in case of power failure. Liberalisation and privatisation may exacerbate these problems.
- Renewable energies. In theory, this is the way to go, leaving fossil fuels and their pollution behind us. In practice, renewable energy supplies are still volatile. Watch out for fluctuations in supply, therefore.
- Investment in infrastructure. Future demand for power will outstrip current capabilities, but required investments to update power infrastructures will be huge. USD 13.6 trillion will be needed by 2030, worldwide. If big players are now collections of smaller players (liberalisation and privatisation), who will put up the money?
- Attacks leading to damage or destruction. Acts of war, terrorism and sabotage, cyberattacks, HEMP (high altitude electromagnetic pulse) attacks, IEMI (intentional electromagnetic interference) attacks… the list of deliberate menaces to power stations and grids is extensive.
On a slightly more reassuring note, power blackouts from the provider side are typically not the result of one event, but of a combination of events.
Indeed, there is no outage known where a power grid without any pre-existing deficiency collapsed due to a single factor.
At least one condition or deficiency such as high power demand, ageing material, power plant shutdown elsewhere, simultaneous breakdowns between power plants, or human failure would need to occur first.
But don’t let that stop you from making your own plans for backup generators and industrial battery backups.