-

Energize Confusing UPS and renewable energy with backup power can...
- Advertisment -

Confusing UPS and renewable energy with backup power can be costly

- Advertisment -

by Nick Oosthuizen, Inframid

With more companies getting ready to operate again and empowering their employees to work from home, reliable electricity is essential. But, reliable power is not a given. It can come with a threat to business continuity for remote workers trying to operate from home offices as well as businesses starting to run again.

Nick Oosthyzen

Aside from the threat to business continuity when the lights go out, there is a risk of damage to computers, other electronic equipment, machinery and manufacturing processes. South Africans need to become more energy independent. Not necessarily off the grid, but independent.

Companies, institutions and individuals should be careful about buying solar combined with battery backup systems before first weighing up the costs of backup power vs UPS (uninterrupted power supply) systems, vs UPS systems connected with renewable energy such as solar.

Don’t confuse your UPS requirements with your backup needs. Backup power ensures that your total energy pool is covered in the event of a power failure. This means that you will have electricity to source power to all the energy-using systems your business needs to keep operating. However, within that pool, there is a load which cannot be lost for even a few seconds; otherwise, there is a significant risk of losing critical systems and information. This critical load is where UPS systems are needed to provide a seamless transition during the changeover to the backup power supply.

Certainly, a UPS can be used as backup power if the essential installation is small. But UPS systems can be costly and they only last as long as their batteries last. If your total essential load is minimal, as in the case of a small house or small office, a UPS could be used as a backup energy source. However, you would need a bigger battery to run it for more extended periods.

Likewise, for bigger installations and when more extended periods of uninterrupted power supply are required, a large battery will be needed, and it becomes costly. This is when a UPS with an alternative backup power source makes more sense.

When considering UPS systems, it is vital to understand which part of the energy load would require a seamless transfer of power. In other words, know the total demand and how much of that requires an uninterrupted power supply to avoid the risk of damage or loss of valuable data.

A UPS will be needed in the following scenarios as seamless transfer and bridging the gap between the electricity mains going down and the backup power source taking over:

  • In the home, for computing, security and communication systems; and equipment such as DSTV decoders which cause high levels of inconvenience.
  • In schools, for educational computing systems, administration systems and IT applications such as CAD which are necessary especially during exam times.
  • In general, to power electronics that could be damaged by power dips and surges.
  • In the manufacturing industry, to prevent loss or damage to tools such as mouldings etc. In some of these cases, a few seconds downtime can take hours to clean and restart.

Consider a school which needs backup and uninterrupted power for the IT classroom only:

For backup in the IT classroom, they would implement a UPS because they require backup only for the classroom. In the event of a power outage, the UPS takes over seamlessly and lasts for say 30 min. So, if the outage is less than 30 min, the UPS can also be considered as a backup. However, during exams the school needs to hire a generator to cater for possible longer power cuts. In this case of the school, a backup generator with a local UPS is the most cost-effective way to support their energy needs, both during exams and normal tutoring.

Localising UPS systems in this scenario is more sensible than centralising a UPS on the main power supply but should be considered on a case by case basis. UPS systems can be localised on every office or classroom where uninterrupted power is essential. Less costly backup power can then be implemented more centrally to provide electricity for longer periods.

Cost-effective backup power solutions include diesel, petrol, steam and gas of which the refilling can be controlled. Sun-powered energy such as solar panels is an option, but alone it is not a reliable source to use as backup power for essential loads since it is reliant on sunshine. And, the addition of batteries is costly.

A feasibility study is recommended to understand all aspects of the total energy demand, identify which parts require uninterrupted supply, determine the most cost-effective options for backup power and consider renewable energy sources to lower energy costs.

Don’t confuse UPS and renewable energy with backup power as it could cost you dearly. UPS systems are necessary, but they can be expensive if they are called to provide backup power for your entire load. The golden rule is to localise your UPS and centralise your backup power and grid tied renewable energy as much as possible.

Contact Nick Oosthuyzen, Inframid, Tel 082 558-5242, nick@inframid.co.za

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles

Independent transmission system “essential” to end load shedding

by Roger Lilley, Now Media  -   To overcome the scourge of load shedding, two components are urgently needed: more generating capacity and an improved and...

Drivers improving the business case for solar power

Information from IM Power  -   Covid-19 has presented businesses with the opportunity to re-evaluate both their operational models and costs. Proactive organisations found themselves navigating...

Temperature monitor and controller saves municipality money

Instrotech recently supplied its DPM4003 and DPM3001M (low- and high-alarm relay output) temperature indicators to Levivi22 Engineering and Projects, the company contracted by Tshwane...

Undertaking wall thickness testing at Tutuka

During the lockdown in June, rope-access specialist Skyriders undertook an inspection of pulverised fuel (PF) piping at Tutuka power station near Standerton in Mpumalanga...

Rentable solar power now available

Aggreko, a leading provider of mobile, modular power, temperature control and energy services, today announces the immediate availability of its solar power rental offer....

EU solar power association signs cooperation agreement with SAPVIA

SolarPower Europe and the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen cooperation and explore new business...

First BW4 wind farm celebrates commencement of commercial operations

South Africa’s first bid window four (BW4) wind farm, part of government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), has announced its Commercial...

Maintaining backup battery systems for maximum usage and reliability

Information from Fluke  -   Most backup power systems use an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) and a string of batteries. The UPS backs up the digital...

Renewable energy company offers bursaries for tertiary education

Globeleq, a leading independent power producer operating in Africa, is offering bursaries for tertiary education. The Globeleq Scholarship Fund aims to develop skills needed...

SA’s Risk Mitigation tender and what it means for energy storage, renewables and gas

by Andy Colthorpe, Energy-Storage news  -   South Africa’s Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy is conducting a fairly unique procurement programme for 2 GW of...

Eskom acknowledges load shedding’s damage to the economy, promises improvement

Eskom's CEO, Andre de Ruyter, says the power utility understands that it has a critical role to play in enabling South Africa's economic recovery...

MEA Energy Week conference draws world-class lineup

Information from Siemens  -  Siemens Energy and partners are holding a major Middle East and Africa-focused virtual conference, entitled ‘Shaping the Energy of Tomorrow’, from...

How to classify outdoor circuit breakers

Information from Noja Power  -   Electrical engineering switchgear classification is a challenging topic. With the varied terminology for electrical equipment around the world, clarity on...

What’s on the energy storage market besides Li-ion batteries?

Information from IDTechEx  -   While Li-ion batteries are dominating the stationary energy storage sector, a growing number of companies are developing different technologies to be...

Electrical junction box offers ten entries

A rectangular-shaped junction box, which is both Ex e and IP68 certified, is now available from Pratley. Known as the Enviro Rectangular Junction Box,...
- Advertisement -