In case you haven't heard, we're on the edge of an energy crisis in the UK. It may not be common knowledge yet, but the National Grid has to work harder than ever before to balance supply and demand. And demand is increasing faster than supply. However, if you are the proud owner of a diesel or gas-powered standby generator that you use to provide backup power for your business, the UK energy crisis might be an opportunity for you. In order to balance supply and demand, the National Grid has a few options. The way that it balances real-time demand for power is by varying the supply frequency. You'll probably remember from your physic lessons at school that power is directly proportional to frequency (P = f x C x V2 where f is frequency, C is capacitance and V is voltage). If demand for power is greater than generation, the frequency falls, while if generation is greater than demand, the frequency rises. You can see how the real-time demand varies with frequency on the National Grid's website. National Grid has a licence obligation to control frequency within the limits specified in the 'Electricity Supply Regulations', i.e. ±1% of nominal system frequency (50.00Hz) except in abnormal or exceptional circumstances. National Grid must therefore ensure that sufficient generation and/or demand is held in automatic readiness to manage all credible circumstances that might result in frequency variations.

Combining standby power and diesel generator maintenance

In times of exceptional demand, the Grid has to generate more power. One option is to start up old coal-fired power stations, which is expensive in both monetary terms and carbon. So the Grid is getting smarter about the ways it meets peak demand. And that's where you and your standby power generator come in. If you have a standby power generator you can sign up to our GENsmart scheme. In times of energy shortfall, you will be asked to reduce your energy demand. It's usually not practical for most businesses to simply shut everything down and do nothing, so the alternative solution is to run your standby generator so that you can use it to continue your business operations without using the grid. As well as getting paid for the power that you provide, there's another benefit your generator is regularly tested under load, which as any generator service engineer will tell you is an essential part of any routine generator maintenance programme. To qualify, you must be able to remove at least 100kW from the grid, and respond to a request to reduce demand within 15-20 minutes. For more information about GENsmart click here.