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Protecting critical energy supplies

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Ensuring electricity supplies can be managed and maintained effectively is a key factor when planning distribution systems for critical infrastructure. Don Innis, Sales Manager at Lucy Switchgear looks at the considerations facing developers.

For all organisations where electricity supplies are critical, for instance in hospitals or airports, effective planning of electricity distribution systems is central to the management of supply. Heating and lighting systems are vital, as well as ensuring supply is maintained to critical equipment such as operating theatres, runway lights  or control centres. Interruptions can be costly and have serious consequences and therefore ensuring the security of the electricity supply is essential in the design of power distribution systems.

The inclusion of a back up supply as an integral part of the overall system is a valuable addition. One option is for Lucy Switchgear to be a lead supplier, along with the local power distribution network operator to introduce alternative feeds from the distribution network in accordance with the medium voltage demand required for the end user.


Another option is for Lucy Switchgear to deliver a turnkey solution, along with the local power distribution network operator to provide an open point in the network, linked to a new medium voltage or medium voltage/low voltage distribution system, which forms part of an automated network changeover sequence. The open point allows supply to be switched during any interruption to an alternative medium voltage standby supply, ensuring on-going electricity supply can be secured.

However negotiations on highly technical projects such as this require expert knowledge, which organisations may not have in-house. With over 100 years’ industry experience, Lucy Switchgear can provide this expertise, and can play an integral role in negotiations with distribution network operators. Using in-house expertise, Lucy Switchgear engineers can work with utility companies and  organisations to create solutions for the simplest of schemes to the most complex projects.

Future-proofing power distribution systems

Building automation into any secondary power distribution system can also play a key part in protecting the security of supply. With full automation, the ultimate aim for modern electricity distribution systems, managers need to ensure that any equipment they fit is, at a minimum, automation-ready, to meet future requirements. Indeed installing remote control and automation technology as an integral part of the system brings many benefits, particularly around security of supply. 

For example, close monitoring of the electricity supply through remote terminal units, together with automated load switching, allows the network to be more responsive and quickly adapt to changing conditions. Should a fault occur in an automated system, effective data collection allows this to be rapidly detected and the network to be automatically reconfigured to isolate the fault, maintaining supply and allowing the fault to be repaired quickly.

For refurbishment projects, retrofitted automation solutions are an excellent way of upgrading equipment and can rapidly improve the quality and reliability of the electricity supply in a very cost effective way. Retrofit units can also significantly extend the life of distribution systems.

As specialists in high-performance medium voltage switchgear, Lucy Switchgear has many years experience in designing retrofit actuators suitable for legacy ring main units. These products are designed to be easily and safely fitted, without system downtime, while units remain energised.

Cost-effective solutions

There are many other considerations which also need to be taken into account during the planning of electricity distribution systems for infrastructure projects. High quality, reliable equipment that is simple to operate and maintain throughout the equipment’s lifetime is a basic requirement. Ideally equipment must also be compact, to minimise space requirements; easy to upgrade, to meet changing requirements; and competitively priced.

‘Plug and play’ package substations can offer organisations a simple, high quality and cost effective solution. Offering many advantages, such as a single point of contact for sourcing and quick and easy installation, preconfigured package substations can simply be placed onto a site or plinth and connected up.

At the cutting edge of design and innovation, and comprising three market-leading products, Lucy Switchgear package substations can also be provided as complete turnkey solutions. These include the preconfigured system, and options for delivery, site installation, mains supply connection and even pre-fitted automation functionality.  

Partnership for complete peace of mind

With a flexible and collaborative approach, established expertise in developing bespoke solutions and dedicated after-sales support throughout the product life cycle, Lucy Switchgear can offer customers complete peace of mind. From the simplest scheme to a complex, multi-stage project the company works in partnership with its customers to deliver intelligent solutions to meet every challenge.

Tel: + 44 1844 267267

Fax: +44 844 267223


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