It is beyond argument that clean electricity is the key driver for achieving net zero carbon. But the UK power cuts of November 2021 are a stark reminder that all-electric buildings and systems have an Achilles heel. When the power trips out, nothing works unless there is a backup supply.

As storms devastated parts of the electricity distribution infrastructure, thousands of homes and businesses found themselves powerless for days or weeks. Even those with gas or oil central heating found that with no electricity, their pumps could not function. The lucky ones had old school gas for heating and cooking, plus solid fuel fires. All-electric converts froze in the dark.

The 2021 outages raise some very big questions in terms of how electricity systems work, and how electricity is used. As we increasingly rely on electricity, extreme weather events causing storms and floods are likely to proliferate. We need to be prepared.

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