In energy terms, Europe is preparing itself for a winter of uncertainty. This rather unsettling scenario is as a result of current geopolitical dynamics, planned maintenance of some energy generation capacity, a rebound from the economic slowdown created by COVID-19, and the long-term decision of many European countries to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels, all while the transition to renewable sources has been slow. While it’s true to say that each country within Europe has a unique profile in terms of reliance across the energy-mix, and different levels of energy supply resilience, Europe as a whole faces a serious challenge: to ensure it can guarantee sufficient levels of energy to power itself through this coming winter.
Just last month, news corporation, Bloomberg Europe, reported that power outages are ‘the next threat for the continent’. Countries across the region are already expressing grave concerns over their gas supply reserves for the coming months. France’s Prime Minister is warning of potential power cuts in homes across the country this winter. The UK’s National Grid is talking about ‘three-hour power cuts’, while Norway is ‘set to curb its electricity exports’. So, with already stretched energy supplies and such uncertainty in the energy sector, it’s no wonder our region is bracing itself for a volatile next few months.
What does this mean for the residential sector across Europe?
The inconvenience that a power disruption could cause the home and residential sector, even say 20 years ago, was not insignificant. However today, with the emergence of critical smart home technology and our reliance on connected electronic devices, the repercussions of a power fluctuation or a full outage in our homes are unthinkable. Unstable power quality could cause irreversible damage to your sensitive home electronics, while a full power outage could cause serious disruption to your lighting or heating system for example. And, as we’ve seen over the past couple of years, largely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic from 2020, many more of us now work from home, or have adopted remote learning from home as the default option. Since this time, we have become much more reliant on home office/WIFI equipment, and of course, our home office electrical equipment depends on a stable and resilient power supply. The good news is that homes can protect their electrical appliances from the threat of power fluctuations and power outages by installing an uninterruptible power supply (UPS).
How could the energy crisis impact businesses?
It goes without saying, large and small businesses alike rely on a stable and resilient power supply for their critical appliances to successfully drive their daily operations. And of course, a seamless customer experience is wholly dependent on a company’s ability to operate free from disruption. Even a short-term voltage fluctuation and business continuity could be compromised as a result of sudden equipment malfunction or reduced efficiency of electrical equipment. And as for a full power blackout, the consequences could be disastrous, not just in terms of business downtime, but also for the reputational hit that a company could face. Just think about the financial and logistical consequences of a power outage that impacted say supermarket refrigeration units, oven units in a bakery, or the ATM of your local bank. Power fluctuations and outages can cause severe damage, disruption and downtime. By installing uninterruptible power supply devices, businesses can avoid potential damage to critical appliances, and eliminate disruption and downtime in the event of power fluctuations or outages.
And how could the crisis disrupt European industry?
Industry depends on a stable power grid, to the extent that irregular power quality or a sudden change in voltage could cause serious damage to critical applications – which in turn could cause massive operational disruption. Take for example a milk processing plant that produces up to 5000 liters of milk per day. Quality and hygiene are essential. The condition of every single bottle is dependent upon an automated production process that includes heating for pasteurization as well as cooling and refrigeration to destroy any harmful bacteria and ensure safe storage. Such a process relies on highly precise measuring and testing, which in turn is dependent on a stable power source. Any power disruption or downtime could result in a batch of contaminated milk that has to be immediately rejected.
Power fluctuations that lead to electrical failures can even cause serious injuries to workers. And a full power outage has the capacity to bring a production plant to a complete halt – resulting in a loss in productivity, revenue and material. Research from Forbes shows that the average automotive manufacturer for example stands to lose €23,000 per minute each time the production line stops, with overall, unplanned downtime costing industrial manufacturers more than €50 billion a year! However, by installing UPS devices, industrial environments can ensure power quality and availability, thus eliminating costly business downtime and even risk to employee safety.
What is an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)?
A UPS is an electrical device that isolates the electrical installation from power supply quality issues, and provides emergency power when mains power fails. It does this by supplying energy stored in batteries. A UPS is typically used to protect critical appliances and other electrical equipment, not just in homes and small businesses, but also in larger scale working environments such as supermarkets, shopping malls, chemical plants and factories – where an unexpected power disruption could cause serious business disruption, injuries, or even fatalities.
Schneider Electric – keeping you powered on, around the clock
As a leading UPS manufacturer, Schneider Electric has a key role to play this winter, in helping to protect critical electrical appliances within homes, businesses, and industry across Europe. So, even if we experience power fluctuations and blackouts over these coming months, rest assured we can keep you powered up and productive through this challenging period. What’s more, most of our UPS products are Green Premium™ certified, and deliver compliance, transparency and higher environmental performance.
Check out our interactive product selector to identify which UPS is right for you.