The mention of renewable energy causes many to think of solar. This could be due to the rising adoption of solar panels in residential markets. However, many big factors that are driving the renewable market are taking place in the commercial and industrial sectors.
By keeping a close eye on renewable trends in these markets, you can help your business make more informed energy decisions. What can business leaders expect to see from renewables in 2017? Here are a few trends to watch:
Onsite generation: Many businesses are looking for renewable energy sources other than just solar. An option businesses can capitalize on is using existing facilities to install renewable systems for onsite generation. Consider cases like UPS. UPS has long been considered a corporate pioneer for renewables. Earlier this year, it was reported that UPS is investing $18 million in onsite solar installations to be completed by 2018. With thousands of facilities across the country, this will allow UPS to capitalize on its real estate holdings to generate a portion of its electricity onsite.
Off-site procurement: Not all facilities are able to integrate renewable systems. Accessibility can vary by location. However, independent offsite renewable energy suppliers are another option. Participation in off-site procurement could increase as businesses and their suppliers build closer relationships and work to diversify energy strategies. A variety of plans such as power purchase agreements, net metering, demand response and shared solar programs are likely to rise. Look out for new availability in off-site procurement as renewable options progress.
Storage capacity: Storage remains a challenge for renewable energy systems. Without storage for excess generated energy, these systems lose much of their efficiency. As a result, businesses investing in energy infrastructure should make similar investments in storage. Investing in microgrids, which combine electricity generation and storage in one system, can be a great solution. According to a recent MarketsandMarkets report, the microgrid market is set to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.9 percent over the next four years. This could reach a value of $38.99 billion by 2022, due largely to predicted use in commercial and industrial businesses.
Biofuels: Businesses aren’t only focusing on energy infrastructure as a means of meeting renewable energy goals. Organizations with large fleets are also trying to power their vehicles without relying on fossil fuels. Instead, businesses are opting for clean burning biofuels. These biofuels are derived from organic compounds like algae, wheat and corn. Even airlines—one of the largest corporate consumers of fuel—are trying biofuels. In late 2016, JetBlue announced a record-setting order for 330 million gallons of renewable jet fuel. This has set the pace for other businesses to manage the efficiency of large vehicle fleets.
Corporate renewable projects: Making an investment in renewable energy isn’t just about achieving cost savings or protecting the environment. Aligning your brand with renewable energy initiatives can also be a selling point to customers. According to a 2015 Cone Communications study, 91 percent of consumers expect companies to operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues. In order to gain a competitive edge, businesses are investing more in renewable infrastructure as a marketing tool. An example of how this is being done is Google. Google claims it is positioned to hit their goal of obtaining 100 percent renewable energy for its global operations by the end of this year.
The rise of drones: Late last year, a promising new development happened in the renewable energy market. A partnership between a cloud software platform and a drone and camera manufacturer was created. Through this partnership, a drone was equipped with thermal imaging technology that can inspect and analyze renewable infrastructure. Its creators describe this product as a way to streamline installations, increase efficiency and decrease maintenance costs. While Look for utilities and renewable energy suppliers to continue using drones to streamline operations. This will hopefully help increase the adoption of renewable energy and drive down costs for end-users.
With every passing year, renewables take even bigger strides in the energy market. These strides are seen in the way businesses around the world meet their energy needs. As new advances roll out, businesses can leverage renewables in exciting new ways. To learn more, click here.