April 2013

Concern about the energy supply in Belgium

The issue of energy supply in our country has become a hot topic in recent months. Do we really need to worry? And what can companies do to anticipate a possible energy crisis? We asked Laurens van Reijen, CEO of LCL.

Should we be concerned about energy supply in Belgium?
Laurens van Reijen, CEO of LCL: “By lack of investment in power plants and the recent problems with a number of nuclear reactors in Doel and Tihange our country can no longer adequately provide for its own energy supply. This increases the risk of power blackouts. Over the past year there have been a number of critical moments for power supply in Belgium. I am thinking of the freezing temperatures in February 2012 when there was a very high demand for energy. During the Whitsun weekend, the opposite problem arose: at that time, there was an energy oversupply and power had to be exported to other countries. That also entails a risk of power cuts. In addition, there was the technical failure at Elia on 2 October 2012, which temporary cut off a quarter of the Belgian power supply. Even in the past few weeks, there was a risk of energy shortages, especially in the very cold period around mid-January. It is obvious that Belgium urgently needs a uniform energy policy and a lot more investment. Only then we can secure our future energy supply.”

What are the possible consequences of a prolonged power outage?
Laurens van Reijen: “A prolonged power outage can result in enormous economic damage: loss of data, technical unemployment, commercial loss, reputational damage, and so on. Therefore it is crucial for server rooms and data centres to be equipped with diesel generators, to be able to cope with power failures. Without diesel generators, the consequences are potentially disastrous.”

How is LCL anticipating a possible power failure?
Laurens van Reijen: “LCL has UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) systems at its three data centres. These provide backup power from batteries if the power fails. Suppose that the outage lasts longer, then the system automatically switches over to our diesel generators. All these systems undergo major maintenance before the winter, and the diesel generator is supplied with fuel suitable for low winter temperatures. Additionally, all of our emergency systems are tested thoroughly every month.”

What tips can you give a company that aims to be prepared for any interruption of the energy supply?
Laurens van Reijen: “Due to increasing dependence on IT, disaster recovery planning is becoming more and more important in order to ensure business continuity. Many companies are already taking precautions and have emergency power supply such as UPS systems or generators. That is a positive development, but the major stumbling block is the maintenance and testing of these systems. This is often overlooked, meaning that a power failure can still cause unpleasant surprises. The major advantage of a data centre like LCL is that our people are working on this continuously, so as a company you no longer have to worry about this issue. For many companies, LCL now functions as a second data centre, giving them redundancy with their own data centre. Of course, customers can also come to us for a complete solution. LCL has the great advantage that we have multiple data centres, interconnected by fibre optic cable.”


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