As widely reported in The Telegraph on 28th December, a secret Government security assessment has found that Britain is unprepared for prolonged blackouts, which would cause increased death rates, rising public disorder and high-risk criminals on the loose should major energy networks be seriously damaged.
The assessment was codenamed Exercise Hopkinson and examined what would happen if a severe storm knocked out crucial energy infrastructure in south west England. The findings were as follows:
- Transport networks would be paralysed and emergency services would struggle to cope
- Fuel to run backup generators may be inaccessible
- Increased mortality rates
- The dead may not be buried.
Exercise Hopkinson “exposed the fact that, where contingency plans against power disruption exist, some of those plans are based on assumption rather than established fact”, according to a report of the exercise, which was distributed privately last month.
“Populations are far less resilient now than they once were,” it concluded. “There is likely to be a very rapid descent into public disorder unless Government can maintain [the] perception of security.”
The impacts of a widespread electricity outage were now being reassessed and re-rated as “VERY HIGH”, it suggests.
An industry source told the Telegraph the findings were “genuinely worrying”. “The short synopsis is: we’re unprepared,” they said. “If they ran this every year you wouldn’t expect them so have identified so many gaps in their knowledge and preparation.
This report shows the importance of not only having individual power protection systems in place to support critical loads but maintaining them on a regular basis to give you the certainty that it will protect you when the mains fails. It also highlights the shortsightedness of installing say a diesel generator but only going for an 8 hour day tank. Should there be a widespread power outage, you want a decent amount of time to be able to source replacement fuel.