Ensuring Uninterrupted Power: The Importance of Battery Backup in the UK

Electricity has always been a necessity of living, but it has become even more crucial today due to more reliance on electronic devices and appliances in day-to-day activities. Laptops, coffee makers, blenders, toasters, electrical grills, and vacuum cleaners all rely on electricity. That's why it has become important to ensure an uninterrupted electricity supply even when the grid supply gets cut. This is where battery backup systems come into action. 

A battery backup system provides the necessary electricity supply needed to run essential appliances during power outages. Furthermore, the increasing challenges and vulnerabilities in the UK's power grid are also elevating the importance of it. Therefore, this article explores all about battery backup and portable power stations in the UK, starting with an overview of the power grid in the UK and ending by presenting the few best battery backup solutions in the UK.

battery backup and portable power stations in the UK

Understanding the Power Grid in the UK

The power grid in the UK is the network of power stations, electricity infrastructure, and powerlines that generate and transport electricity across the country. The National Grid ESO is the system operator of Great Britain's electricity supply, providing grid supply to all homes and businesses in England, Wales, and Scotland. The system comprises 300+ substations, 900+ miles of underground cable, and around 4500 miles of overhead line. [1]

The UK's power grid uses multiple sources to generate hundreds of terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity, including fossil fuels (gas and coal), renewable energy, and nuclear energy. Since fossil fuel electricity also means environmental concerns, this makes us wonder how many coal power stations are in the UK.

Back in 1990, 80% of electricity in the UK was generated by coal. However, most electricity today is generated from nuclear and renewable power sources rather than fossil fuels. The UK has only two coal plants connected to the grid. [2]

In May 2023, 44% of electricity came from zero-carbon sources, while 34% of electricity came from gas. 0% of electricity was generated from coal in May. Moreover, the UK government targets to phase out its reliance on coal-fired power stations by 2025. In short, today's half of the UK's power needs are fulfilled by zero-carbon sources, while the remaining power needs are fulfilled through gas-based generation. [3]

Challenges and Vulnerabilities in the UK's Power Grid

Although the UK's power grid is a well-structured infrastructure to provide an uninterrupted electricity supply, it still faces certain challenges and vulnerabilities. Some of the key ones are as follows:

  • Aging Infrastructure

The UK's power grid is aging, as the average age of electricity transformers is about 63 years old. Besides that, transmission lines, power plants, and other infrastructure are reaching the end of their operational lifespan. [4]

  • Increase in Electricity Demand

It is estimated that there will be a 50% increase in electricity demand by 2035. This requires thorough planning and investment to cope with increasing demand without overloading the system.

  • Climate Change-Inducted Events

The world is experiencing severe natural disasters and weather events due to climate change. Flooding and heat waves are increasingly frequent and intense in the UK. So, climate concerns can cause damage to power infrastructure and lead to widespread power outages.

  • Shortage of Gas

Since the UK generates a significant portion of its electricity from gas, any disruption in the gas supply can directly impact the electricity supply. In short, the UK's power grid is vulnerable to various challenges and threats, requiring authorities to keep evaluating the risk factors and mitigating the issues timely.

Frequency and Duration of Power Outages in the UK

Just like the power grids of other countries, the UK's power grid has also experienced many power outages in the past. Some of the prominent blackouts in the UK's history are listed below:

1. Storm Frank (December 2015)

Storm Frank hit parts of England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland back in December 2015, bringing heavy rainfall and severe flooding. This resulted in a power cut for 40,000 homes that lasted for several days in some affected areas.

2. Christmas Storm (December 2013)

The UK experienced a series of severe storms in December 2013, leading to a power cut for thousands of homes on Christmas Day. In some regions, power cuts lasted several hours, while power outages extended for multiple days in more severely affected areas.

3. Atlantic Storm (October 2013)

A severe Atlantic storm involving hurricane-force winds struck England on October 28, 2013, leading to a power cut for around 220,000 homes in England. The time it took to reduce the power varied from area to area, taking a few hours to a few days.

4. Worst UK Flood (July 2007)

Due to prolonged heavy rain, parts of the UK were devastated by flooding in July 2007. The power outage left tens of thousands of people without electricity. The power restoration process took significant time due to the devastating flood impacts. Besides blackouts, there are also occasional short-duration power outages in the UK due to equipment maintenance, grid upgrades, or weather conditions in that area.  [5]

frequency and duration of power outages in the UK

Role of Using Battery Backup in the UK

Power outages are becoming common and severe with every passing year, urging the need to have a reliable backup system in place to fulfill power needs when grid supply is interrupted. So, let's now explore all the basics of battery backup.

What is a Battery Backup System and Its Purpose?

A battery backup system is a device that provides a temporary power supply during power outages. A typical backup system consists of a battery, inverter, and a charging mechanism. The battery gets charged through AC charging or solar energy via solar panels. Once the battery is charged, it can serve as a standby power source and supply electricity when the grid supply is interrupted. 

The main purpose of a home battery backup power supply in the UK is to maintain power continuity during power outages and ensure that essential devices and equipment are operational without interruption. Besides that, it is also used to keep critical infrastructures of the commercial sector operational, such as data centers, life-support equipment in hospitals, telecommunication facilities, etc. 

Types of Battery Backup Systems

There are four main types of battery backup systems:

1. Standby Systems

Standby battery backup systems are the simplest backup systems, which automatically shift the power from the grid supply to the battery backup supply for the connected devices during a power outage. During normal operations, it uses its inverter to charge the battery. When the grid power supply fails, it converts battery DC power to AC through inverter and power appliances. The system is able to switch power within milliseconds, ensuring an uninterrupted power supply. 

2. Line-interactive Systems

Line-interactive systems are similar to standby systems but offer a few additional features. They incorporate a voltage regulator that helps to reduce the impacts of voltage surges, spikes, and sags from the grip power supply. This way, connected appliances get clean and stable power during grid supply and power outages. 

3. Online Double Conversion Systems

Online double conversion systems are the best choice for appliances that are sensitive to even the slightest power disruption. These systems convert all the incoming grid AC supply to DC power through its inverter, which is then used to charge the battery and also power appliances by converting DC to AC again with the inverter. This way, not just we get a non-stop power supply, but the system is also able to withstand large fluctuations from the grip supply before switching to battery power, eliminating unnecessary battery discharges. 

4. Portable Power Systems

Portable power systems are the modern type of battery backup systems that provide backup power on the go. These systems are equipped with a battery, inverter, and charging/discharging ports in a single compact structure, making them portable and easy to carry. Moreover, these systems can be charged through AC, solar panels, or car DC ports. This way, we can use them to power home appliances or take them with us during outdoor places where the grid supply is unavailable.

Benefits of Using Battery Backup Systems in the UK

Battery backup systems are not just beneficial to have a backup power supply during grid outages, but they also offer many other benefits, as follows:

  • Require minimal to no maintenance
  • Batteries can last up to ten years
  • Cost-saving in the long run
  • Generate little to no noise
  • Environmental-friendly operations

Overall, these systems offer comfort and peace of mind from unforeseen power disruptions.

What Industries and Sectors Require Stable Battery Backup in the UK

Other than the power backup needs of UK households, many industries and sectors also require stable battery backup systems. Below is the list of industries and sectors requiring stable energy back up in the UK:

1. Healthcare Sector

The healthcare sector requires battery backup systems to ensure uninterrupted operations in the facility and supply power to critical medical devices for the best patient care. 

2. Data Centers and IT Infrastructure

Data centers and IT infrastructure operate 24/7. Any interruption due to the power outage leads to downtime, loss of productivity, and other damages. Fortunately, battery backup systems offer protection and a seamless power supply during outages, enhancing the overall reliability of data centers and IT infrastructure.

3. Manufacturing and Industrial Facilities

The manufacturing sector highly depends on electricity. Any power interruption can lead to costly downtime, production delays, safety hazards, or compromised product quality. So, powerful battery backup systems are critical to keeping everything operational in manufacturing and industrial facilities.

4. Financial Institutions and Banking Systems

The financial sector is highly-regulated and should offer 24/7/356 days services. Failing to do so leads to severe financial losses, reputational damage, and failed transactions. So, battery backup systems are an ideal choice for financial instructions and banking systems to ensure seamless banking operations and also protect the banking system from corruption during outages.

5. Emergency Services and Public Safety

Police, fire department, and medical emergency services are critical services that protect the community in unpleasant situations. Their operations rely heavily on power supply, such as effective communication, timely emergency response, on-site operation of life-saving equipment, etc. Battery backup systems provide the backup power to provide critical services during emergencies without interruption.

In short, battery backup systems are the need of almost all industries and sectors whose operations rely on grid supply.

Best Battery Backup Solutions in the UK

The necessity of battery backup systems today has encouraged many companies to develop and offer a range of energy backup solutions in the UK. Jackery is a renowned provider of backup solutions. Below are our two reliable battery backup solutions suited for a wide range of backup power needs in the UK:

  • Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro Portable Power Station

Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro Portable Power Station is a powerful energy backup solution that includes a gigantic 2160Wh capacity battery with a 2200W power output to power all imaginable appliances. From smartphones, laptops, and heaters to hot plates, coffee makers, kettles, and toasters, this portable power station can run almost any device/appliance for extended hours during power outages or outdoor off-grid activities.

Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro Portable Power Station

What sets Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro Portable Power Station apart from other solar battery backup solutions is its solar-based charging. Its 2160Wh battery is fully chargeable in just 2.5 hours with 6 SolarSaga 200W solar panels. 

In short, Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro Portable Power Station is a modernized and all-in-one battery backup system to fulfill any power needs for home, commercial, or outdoor adventures in the UK.

  • Jackery Explorer 1500 Pro Portable Power Station

Jackery Explorer 1500 Pro Portable Power Station is another leading solar energy backup solution that includes a 1512Wh capacity battery and 1800W output power. It is capable of powering 7 devices at the same time. 

Jackery Explorer 1500 Pro Portable Power Station

Jackery Explorer 1500 Pro Portable Power Station can be fully charged in merely 2 hours with 6 SolarSaga 200W solar panels or AC wall charging. Moreover, its patented multi-duct design provides 30% enhanced heat dissipation and improved product safety. It is a compact, lightweight, and feature-rich battery backup system to fulfill essential power needs in a highly-efficient and secure way.

Conclusion

In today's climate-concerned era, no country can guarantee that its power grid infrastructure is 100% outage free. Therefore, the need for battery backup systems has emerged aggressively over the past few years. Considering the growing demand, we offer the most advanced energy backup devices in the UK market. As a globally trusted brand for portable backup solutions, our devices feature a portable design, multiple charging methods, multiple AC/DC outputs, and top-notch safety features. 

So, if you are looking for a battery backup solution, then do consider our advanced product line and get the best portable battery backup solution that aligns with your needs.

References

  1. Network and infrastructure. Available at: https://www.nationalgrid.com/electricity-transmission/network-and-infrastructure. (Accessed at 7th, July, 2023)
  1. Electricity market. Available at: https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/article/explainer/electricity-market.(Accessed at 7th, July, 2023)
  1. Great Britain's monthly electricity stats. Available at: https://www.nationalgrideso.com/electricity-explained/electricity-and-me/great-britains-monthly-electricity-stats(Accessed at 7th, July, 2023)
  1. Why the UK needs to invest in the National Grid to reach its net zero ambitions. Available at: https://www.savills.co.uk/blog/article/345944/commercial-property/why-the-uk-needs-to-invest-in-the-national-grid-to-reach-its-net-zero-ambitions.aspx(Accessed at 7th, July, 2023)
  1. Worst power cuts in UK history from miners’ strike under Margaret Thatcher government to the London blackout in 2003. Available at: https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/heritage-and-retro/retro/worst-power-cuts-in-uk-history-from-miners-strike-under-margaret-thatcher-government-to-the-london-blackout-in-2003-3870536(Accessed at 7th, July, 2023)

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