This week, Storm Arwen wreaked havoc across the UK, with tens of thousands of homes and businesses experiencing power cuts.

At one point on Friday 26th November, 74,000 customers were without power in England’s North West region, along with a further 88,000 in the Southwest. In Scotland, 120,000 people, along with businesses and transport networks, lost power due to “catastrophic” damage to the electricity network.

The cost of the damage is yet to be calculated, but as customers up and down the UK reel from days without power, businesses are still counting the costs.

Lost power, lost productivity, lost profits

Mohammad Khan, general insurance leader at PwC UK, said on Monday: “Insurance companies have been fielding a high volume of calls over the weekend and today on Storm Arwen. Most of the calls have been in relation to home and car damage. However, as is usual with a major storm; the claims from businesses take longer to be reported and to assess.”

With extreme weather events such as this one, a large proportion of the financial impact will be from damaged roofs and buildings. However, for businesses, the costs of being without power can go beyond the more obvious structural impacts.

Paul Brickman, Sales and Marketing Director at Cresthic Loadbanks, explains: “Most businesses need power to operate, especially in today’s ever-connected world. The impact varies by sector, from loss of production and orders to complete closure. In financial terms, lost sales, wages for staff that are unable to work, production halt or lost data can all add up. Data from the Beast from the East suggested that the 2017 storm cost the UK economy up to £1bn per day in lost productivity.”

Making the case for backup power

With extreme weather events such as this one becoming increasingly commonplace, many businesses are looking at ways to ensure that productivity isn’t impacted in the event of an outage. Having access to reliable backup power could help to keep the lights on, as well as minimising the impact of power cuts – but only if the system is fit for purpose and regularly maintained

  1. Assess the potential impact of a power cut: Calculating return on investment is a key part of justifying any business expenditure. When investing in backup power systems, understand what the impact of a power loss would be on your site. Which of your systems rely on power to operate? Could you continue to trade without power? Calculate the cost of potential disruption based on loss of sales, ongoing reputational damage, or missed order deadlines.
  2. Make sure backup systems work effectively: Once you’ve decided to invest in backup power, make sure the system is fit for purpose and has adequate capacity to meet your needs. Test your systems at commissioning and on an ongoing basis to ensure they can meet critical loads in the event of any lapse in supply.

As a manufacturer and supplier of power testing equipment, Crestchic is seeing an uptick in demand for load banks. The technology is used to test backup power systems by applying a dummy load to the system – a process that helps to ensure that the backup and all its components will work as they should in the event of an emergency.

Paul continues, “Our data suggests that many businesses are becoming wise to the need for backup power – especially with some very high profile blackouts and weather events in recent memory. However, many fail to realise that testing is just as vital a step as having a backup solution. Failure to test could render backup completely useless.

“With so many companies impacted by the recent storm, we urge business owners and managers to think about their backup power. If you have backup but haven’t tested it, then please do. It could make all the difference.”

For advice about testing your power systems, contact us here :