The Challenge and Solution
BOC are the 5th largest user of power within the UK. Therefore, when electricity demand is too high to be met by the power stations, suppliers use a process called “load shedding”. This is where they cut off the largest consumers to maintain power to everyone else. This is cost effective for the customer as they will get a discount on the energy for helping to stabilise the electrical grid.
Logically this makes sense as power can be maintained to thousands of domestic customers and businesses just by cutting off one high energy user. However, this means that backup generation is critical to maintain 24/7 operation.
As part of this the control networks for the backup power generators must be reliable. To achieve this, two networks were installed. Comprising of a main core ring of fibre running in and out of the generator control panels and back to the site main switch room and a redundant fibre ring.
The redundant network cable follows a different path main to the main. This is known as diverse routing. This virtually eliminates the chance of both networks being damaged at the same time.
The redundant network has its own fibre to CANBUS convertors. This removes any single point of failure from the system. All fibres were CST armoured. This provides excellent protection in an industrial environment, yet is light weight, easier to terminate and inexpensive compared to SWA cable. Standard Ethernet links were also created using the spare fibre cores, linking the generators directly to the switch room.