The UK government has reportedly taken steps to solve blackout challenges faced by datacenter operators during potential winter season power shortages. There are growing concerns about the scarce gas supply causing major blackouts.
Sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that the emphasis has been on finding solutions to power shortages by ensuring that the diesel fuel supply remains constant. Diesel is a requirement for generators in case the electricity supply comes to a halt. Datacenters must be considered critical national infrastructure to fall under the government’s extra protection.
The current state of the electricity supply
According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), almost 40 percent of the country’s electricity was produced through gas in 2021. Additionally, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has pressurized the situation by affecting gas supply all over Europe will be affected, leading to electricity imports where needed.
The Electricity System Operator, which is responsible for UK’s power supply, has released a report highlighting potential obstacles and recommendations to ensure adequate power supply throughout winter.
In case there’s a blackout situation in the UK, power shortages could last for three consecutive hours. Some datacenter operators are unsure whether they have enough power supply to keep their generators running when blackouts occur. Datacenters must install diesel generators and UPS along with conducting tests to ensure everything keeps running during energy shortages.
Earlier this year, Interxion experienced a power outage at its Shoreditch datacenter. The electronic switchgear intended to transfer the power to a nearby generator malfunctioned. In light of the concentration of datacenters in some areas, particularly those near London, Gartner analyst Tiny Haynes cautioned that it might be challenging to obtain sufficient diesel fuel supplies if the blackouts last for any length of time.
“My concern is the resupply of Docklands, for instance, where you’ve got a large build-up of datacenters”, Haynes told The Register. “I mean, you’ve got Sovereign House, you’ve got Global Switch, you’ve got Telehouse, you’re gonna have a huge demand for fuel to be shipped into that area. Is there sufficient capacity?”