Austria’s apocalyptic message warning of a “real and very serious” risk of a major global blackout has put many governments on alert and the world is beginning to wonder: what would happen if nothing worked overnight? In the midst of the gas supply crisis and with electricity at stratospheric prices, Spain is no stranger to this possibility, however remote it may be.
In the event of a hypothetical massive drop in electricity supply, at Genesal Energy we ask ourselves the million-dollar question: are we prepared to face a major energy blackout? The answer is complicated.
The vast majority of experts rule out the possibility that in a few months we may find a world stage in darkness, but they warn that, in the face of this hypothetical planetary blackout, reactivating the service would take days. So, if the world shuts down, could the emergency network of our basic services resist until the reactivation of supply?
Airports, hospitals, train stations, logistics centers, electricity networks, pumping stations, medical research centers, pharmaceuticals … All these infrastructures are part of the so-called critical facilities: physical or virtual systems that provide essential services for the economy and the society. Thus, in these places, energy is essential for its proper functioning, and everyone must have an emergency power grid, safe and reliable generators. Without them the security of the facilities is not guaranteed.
The absence of electricity in a hospital would prevent the proper functioning of the emergency room or lack key supplies for the assistance and care of patients. If the power supply fails at an airport, landings and take-offs would be impossible and the safety of passengers would be put at risk. And what would happen if the road network ran out of power? It would be chaos.
To avoid this kind of situations in all critical infrastructure, it is necessary to shield the supply. It is necessary that the vital systems for our society work under any circumstance and condition. You have to have a plan B: a redundant power source like the one provided by generator sets.
In all installations and basic infrastructures, extremely resistant and reliable generators, perfectly adapted to the energy needs of the installation, are needed. To guarantee its 100% reliability, the generator set requires proper maintenance, as it can never fail. The process does not end with the manufacture and delivery of the equipment to the customer. Control and supervision tasks are also key.
Actually, a generator set is a highly safe machine and with the appropriate characteristics it is capable of providing the necessary electrical energy even in the most extreme situations. You can get any infrastructure, such as a hospital or an airport, to maintain its energy for long periods of time, always guaranteeing security. The planes will be able to land and take off or go to other destinations while passengers leave the airport safely. In a hospital it will be possible to care for patients, finish operations, continue caring for the ICU patients, or maintain energized life support machines with any harm to the patients.
Characteristics of equipment in critical facilities
Generating sets in critical facilities are special because they have to be designed with great precision to be able to detect a failure in the electrical supply network and to activate and connect quickly, almost immediately.
In this kind of applications, it is necessary to carry out a detailed study “in situ”, as well as to analyze the loads and divide them into essential and no essential, and generator sets must also comply with specific requirements according to the characteristics of each facility.
The size of the fuel tank must be large enough to respond optimally and to load in operation to guarantee the emergency supply. It is also advisable to install several units in parallel to provide the necessary power (as if only one was functioning). In this way, if one of the units breaks down, the others will continue functioning and thus therefore the facility will continue functioning at least partially.
Maintenance, the key factor
It is also essential to count on at least N + 1 generators available, as well as to carry out an earth system survey – using an IT earth system to maximize genset’s availability is convenient indeed. And above all, the investment in maintenance must be high.
As in critical facilities the maintenance of their emergency networks must be up to date, the industries must also carry out these controls to guarantee the correct operation of their generators. Revisions and preventive maintenance (test starts, control of levels and values of operating parameters, revision of electrical protections …) must be periodic so that, in an emergency situation, they can start up without problem. And in this case, reality tells us that many industries do not perform maintenance work properly.
In the new energy models, systems that guarantee the continuity of electricity service are more necessary than ever, either due to an emergency situation or because we are talking about an isolated system where renewable energy sources do not guarantee supply. For all these cases, generator sets are the solution: they are capable of responding to an emergency in the event of a shutdown of the electrical energy system (ideally of maximum energy efficiency).
If a fossil fuel extraction, treatment or generation plant – regardless of whether it is coal, natural gas or another component – is left without electricity supply, the supervision systems may stop working, and if this happened, we would find a facility out of control that handles highly flammable materials – even explosives – with the consequent danger to the plant and workers.
The same thing happens in generation plants using renewable energies. If the energy source is a nuclear reactor, coal or natural gas, running out of supply is not a possibility because it would mean losing control of the facility. In addition, due to the high temperatures, the fuels used and the pressures that can be formed within the installation, the danger rises even more, and may even spread to nearby towns. In energies such as wind, solar or hydro, the problem is similar.
In addition, if the priority is sustainability, equipment working with gas or biofuels can also be installed. They are a guarantee of a safe, reliable and sustainable energy model, even based on a circular economy. In this kind of installation, the characteristics of the emergency generators are highly variable (medium voltage, high soundproofing, division into rooms, integrated double-walled fuel tanks, etc.), as is the required operating mode.
Thus, as Genesal Energy states, it would be recommended to develop customized solutions adapted to the client’s requirements, prioritizing and analyzing the specifications carefully.
Industry and construction
Emergency power is also essential in strategic sectors such as industry and construction. “When we are in a factory or in a building under construction, we take for granted that electrical energy will always be available, but this is not always the case. The cost of a grid outage can have serious consequences”, Genesal Energy explains.
Many industries operate with continuous processes where a power outage is catastrophic. The consequences of a mains failure are multiple and no good: stopped or damaged machines, the need to restart or reorganize production, diversion of orders, loss of data housed in information systems with the consequent damage to the company’s reputation… If the machines stop, the countdown begins, and entire production runs may be lost. Thus, it is not difficult to add delays throughout the chain to the economic damage itself. All of this can be solved with a suitable emergency power system.
In these cases, a generator set is the ideal solution. It must be robust, reliable equipment and capable of supplying the necessary electrical energy during the power outage. In addition, this type of equipment can be economical, energy efficient and easy to install. The key to finding the right solution is to put yourself in the hands of experts.
The service sector and the culture of immediacy
A commercial area, school, hotel, restaurant or any dependency of the public administration must also have an efficient alternative to respond quickly to a failure or cut in the electricity supply, whether the situation lasts for only a few minutes or days, as it would happen in the event of a major power outage.
If the electricity went out for a very long period of time, the situation would worsen to the point that an evacuation plan would have to be activated to guarantee the safety of the users of the hotel, restaurant or educational center.
In these cases, when the failure is prolonged, several problems occur: perishable products are in danger in cold rooms that do not work, customers cannot make transactions or use basic services such as the elevator or common areas … What at first glance may seem a small incident, in the service sector is something unacceptable.
The situation is more complicated in the online world. For example, if a web page or an application goes down because the server where it is hosted runs out of power for a few minutes or several hours, it is penalized. Any service through the internet -both the servers, such as customer service, as well as any visible element- must be energetically protected. Faced with increasingly demanding customers, emergency energy systems are essential because in a world that is shut down globally, almost nothing would work.
Thus, generator sets for the utility sector must have been designed to recognize when there is a failure in the main electrical power network and, should this occur, start automatically. Generator sets must be reliable, robust and adapted to the client’s needs. The use of top brand materials is very important here – and an added guarantee. Another advantage of using top brands is the easy of finding spare parts if necessary. And needless to say, maintenance plays a key role when it comes to guarantee the genset’s optimal operation.
GENESAL ENERGY CAN ASSIST
Getting to know the characteristics of the place where the generator set will be installed and the environmental, legal, etc. limitations that may occur is essential to achieve optimum performance of the equipment. For this reason, it is so important to put yourself in expert hands, to have professionals capable of offering the best solutions for each case.
At Genesal Energy we carry out this task with the maximum guarantees thanks to our experience within the sector, our in-depth knowledge of the technologies, characteristics and regulations, and the large group of technicians and engineers ready to find the best solution for each case. Because, doubtless to say, each case is different.
Genesal Energy is always ready to provide the most efficient solution. A bespoke generator set adapted to each client. You can find us at firstname.lastname@example.org.