Tag Archives: power supply

Sal Brinton “horrified” by lack of protection for disabled people during power cuts

We’ve seen how the storms currently battering the UK have left thousands without power.

This can have life-threatening consequences for disabled people, who need their electricity supply to power essential equipmen such as breathing machines.

The BBC spoke to one woman who reported being without mains power for 13 hours. Michaela Hollywood said that without her generator, she would not have been able to breathe:

I am incredibly lucky to have a generator – that is enough to power my equipment – so it gives a little bit of comfort for me, but that’s not the case for others,” she said.

No electricity, that obviously puts my life at risk, as well as other disabled people across the United Kingdom, and unfortunately we’ve been left to make our own crisis plans to make sure our lives are protected.

For me, it’s always about prioritising my equipment and trying to not panic even though you have that deep-seeded feeling of panic, of what are we going to do if this goes wrong?

It’s that fear of maybe not being able to breathe, maybe having to pull an all nighter and not sleep, which is very real and very dangerous.

This is something that has been on our Sal Brinton’s radar for a while. She has been pushing the Government to ensure that power companies were compelled to have a plan in place for disabled people at risk if the power supply was cut. She said she was “horrified” that the Government had decided not to do so and just to push the whole thing back to disabled people. She told the Disability News Service:

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Grid capacity

In order to meet the needs of moving to carbon zero over the coming years, it will be necessary to increase the power transmission capacity of the National Grid by a factor of at least two. Currently, the perceived view is that a large number of additional grid links will be needed to facilitate the increased capacity. That would require extensive planning applications and would further delay any project planning and design development. It is thought that this could involve a delay of up to fifteen years. However, there is a simpler solution that would not require any additional power lines. Of course, there would be additional work to be done on the infrastructure, but it should not involve any additional planning permissions.

Outline Solution

Additional power can be transmitted via the existing grid. Now power is the product of voltage and current, so increasing either or both would increase the capacity of the grid. However, there are problems with both potential solutions.

Increasing the voltage would be the most problematical because the distance between adjacent phases may need to be increased and the distance between the transmission lines and the pylon may also need to be increased. This is because, particularly during damp conditions or periods of high humidity, leakage between phases or between the transmission lines and the pylons may be an issue. That may involve the complete redesign and replacement of all pylons. It would also involve replacing the transformers and upgrading the voltage rating of the infrastructure within the grid substations.

Increasing the current would require increasing the diameter of the transmission lines. Such an increase may cause the physical load capacity of the pylons to be exceeded, requiring additional strengthening of the pylons and insulators.

It is clear that increasing the current would require significantly less work than increasing the voltage. Therefore, increasing the current is the preferred solution.

Practical Considerations

Doubling the diameter of the transmission lines would enable the grid to carry four times its present capacity. However, there would need to be a significant increase in the capacity of the grid substations and local transformer stations. Increased capacity between the grid and local transmission networks would also be required. The loadbearing ability of all existing pylon designs would need to be assessed to ascertain whether or not any strengthening work or insulator replacement would be necessary.

Another consideration is the connection of the onshore converter stations to the grid. It will be necessary to construct links between the converter stations and the existing grid. It is assumed here that the planning of these connections has been incorporated into the converter station project plans. However, some reconfiguration of the converter stations may also be required in order to feed increased current to each grid link.

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