This website uses cookies primarily for visitor analytics. Certain pages will ask you to fill in contact details to receive additional information. On these pages you have the option of having the site log your details for future visits. Indicating you want the site to remember your details will place a cookie on your device. To view our full cookie policy, please click here. You can also view it at any time by going to our Contact Us page.

Don’t let the lights go out

Author : Tim Fryer

09 October 2012

The threat of power shortages is closer than we originally thought according to a report from Ofgem. In fact we may be facing blackouts in as little as three years time.

The analysis from Ofgem shows that the margin – that is the difference between capacity and requirement – is likely to fall from its current level of 14% to as low as 4%. This is largely as a consequence of environmental legislation bringing some coal-fired generation capacity to an early close. Four percent is obviously wafer thin if we were to experience a cold snap, or if the overseas supplies of gas we depend on start to slow down.

Human nature dictates that we revel in our misery about the worst case scenario, without deep down believing that it will come to pass. However, as the Californians - collectively who are probably the wealthiest corner of the wealthiest nation - have found out in recent years, being at the top of the world’s economic heap doesn’t give you a god given right to energy. If it is not there, then it is not there!

Are we in the same circumstances? Yes, we clearly are. We have left ourselves with little safety margin and there are two ways of looking at this - macro scale or the big picture. The big picture is that we don’t have joined up thinking regarding long term infrastructure planning. One Government’s drive for cost savings and environmental considerations may fly in the face of the preceding government’s desire to support indigenous fuel sources and associated jobs. The last sentence refers to the demise of the coal industry obviously, but varying opinions have equally existed about imported energy sources, nuclear and renewable energy – even if we should be using such useful substances as oil and gas for electricity generation in the first place. There are so many conflicting ideas and we have gone past the point where we need to form a long-term strategy and stick to it. The politics needs to be removed. We need to place our trust in a cross-party committee that that offers continuity in both its personnel and plan.

Human nature, as I started a previous paragraph, is a funny thing. If the lights go out we will be up in arms blaming the government, the electricity generators, the Arabs and the Russians – everyone apart from ourselves. But this is the other side of the coin. Facilities managers, as I have written about on several occasions in recent months, have a huge role in determining how much energy is consumed in the workplace. Even before looking at investing in PV panels or ground source heat pumps and the like, we are still only starting down the path of making the workplace truly efficient. As I write this I am sitting in my office, on a reasonably autumnal October afternoon, with a window open because the heating is up too high. If anyone should know better!

Typically energy savings of 10 – 20% can be achieved by tackling the low hanging fruit around any commercial premises. That is the sort of figure that represents the difference between the current electricity generation margin and the projected margin in three years time. Or to put it another way, the difference between the lights staying on or them going out.

Contact Details and Archive...

Print this page | E-mail this page


View more articles
Article image

Launch of PFM Partnership Awards 2022 categories

With the categories for the PFM Partnership Awards 2022 now live, entries can be submitted at any time between now and the deadline of Wednesday, 11 May....
Article image

PPE regulations to be extended from April

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) the Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022 (PPER 2022) will come into effect...
Article image

Premier Team completes City YMCA’s SleepEasy Challenge

On Thursday 27 February a team of six Premier Moves volunteers took part in City YMCA’s SleepEasy Challenge. The Premier volunteers were Dave Russinge...
Article image

Issues of back flushing PIC valves explained

The popularity of Pressure Independent Control (PIC) valves over the last few years has significantly increased and now are the popular choice of many syst...
Article image

Team Member winner’s FM journey and life lessons lead to promotion

Following his dramatic personal journey to the UK and winning the PFM Awards 2021 Team Member trophy, Silence Tjivella is now celebrating promotion with hi...
Article image

Why the Law Says You Need a Nappy Bin Disposal Service

At home, parents are used to disposing of their babies’ used nappies the same way they do any other domestic waste - bagging it up and sticking it in the r...