Prepare for the worst: why businesses are improving energy resilience

Centrica

Energy resilience has become a top level business risk, but there are steps you can take to de-risk energy supply interruption.

Although energy resilience is seen as a top-four risk by businesses, nearly 75% of organisations are under-prepared for the growing threat of power supply interruption.

That's according to the latest research by Centrica Business Solutions. Our survey of 1,500 businesses across different sectors examined their readiness for energy-related failure. We asked respondents about their ability to withstand and recover from deliberate attacks, accidents or natural incidents that threaten energy reliability and business continuity.

Our latest research findings capture the energy resilience progress of businesses – two years on from our original 2017 energy resilience research report.

The new survey shows a rising awareness of the need to increase energy resilience. 34% now identify energy security as a risk – up from 28% in 2017. This is deemed the fourth biggest threat for the business leaders we surveyed – only narrowly overtaken by financial risk (35%); market risks (36%) and cyber-crime (42%).

The recent research also shows that while more businesses are making progress on the road to energy resilience, it's the most advanced, sustainable businesses that are best prepared.  

These organisations are also more ready to grow and innovate by having in place strategies for secure energy that enable them to maximise the competitive advantage of big data and to digitalise and automate their businesses.

How to improve energy resilience

There's no doubt that the risks of power supply interruption are growing, which is reflected in the growing concern among businesses. The good news is that there are effective solutions available to protect organisations and ensure that they maintain business continuity whatever power reliability challenges they may face.

Integrating resilience into a long-term energy strategy will provide the best outcomes, as evidenced by our recent research. This shows that businesses who make detailed plans are 34 percentage points more likely to report strong financial performance.

This finding echoes our 2017 research which revealed that businesses without an energy resilience strategy could be risking 17 per cent of their revenue, equating to a £2.8m annual financial loss due to damages and lost opportunities.

Small steps can make a difference

For those businesses that aren't ready to commit to detailed resilience planning, smaller steps can be taken. For example, on-site generation technologies (such as Solar or CHP) and battery storage will provide protection against both supply interruption and costly operational failure.

In addition, device-level monitoring using advanced energy insight technology can prevent energy outages. This is a highly effective measure since one of the most common causes of energy-related failure is ageing and poorly maintained equipment. Using IoT enabled sensors and reporting tools to identify problems before they happen is a cost-effective and easy method of increasing energy reliability.

Three steps to building an energy resilience plan

The 'peak of the 'storm' when critical processes are compromised is not the time for thinking; it's the time to activate a robust contingency plan. You can then sit back with assurance that your off-grid energy supply and storage solutions will automatically kick-in and that essential operation can continue without disruption.  We recommend a three-step process to developing an energy resilience plan:

1. Understand your environment and areas of risk

Conduct a detailed engineering audit of your site to understand your energy profile. Gain a real-time view of systems and process and pinpoint your potential vulnerabilities. Examine the capabilities, sizing and performance of existing resilience measures, such as generators, to ensure they can meet critical loads and supply automated, uninterrupted power in the event of any lapse in supply.

2. Assess the business impact of power loss

Identify critical and non-critical systems and understand the effect of power loss on each. In this way you will be able to prioritise energy resilience solutions and know which essential systems must be kept energised at all times. Some equipment will withstand short-term power loss, whereas the impact of even the briefest interruption on other systems, such as IT, can require a lengthy restart process that can hamper productivity. This step will also help you to prepare a business case to win support for energy resilience from decision makers.

3. Design your resilience plan

Use the data gathered in steps one and two to design your action plan. This should take into account critical loads, relative priorities, and response speeds for back-up power solutions, which should be able to respond automatically. You should also review the off-grid configuration capabilities of existing on-site generation equipment, such as combined heat and power (CHP).

How we can help

As a market leader in the global energy industry, Centrica Business Solutions has the capability to support your end-to-end resilience strategy. This includes working with you to analyse your business needs, understand specific risks and create a robust contingency plan.

We can also design and implement resilient energy solutions, including using our intelligent insights technologies to improve performance of your energy assets and pinpoint vulnerabilities. Our on-site generation and battery storage solutions can also provide you with independence from the grid and increase your energy flexibility.

Learn more by downloading our full report.

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