Addressing the Need for Energy Resiliency
Over the last decade, the energy industry has witnessed a massive transformation ─ one that has not been seen since the introduction of the light bulb. Like the restructuring of natural gas and electricity markets in many states gave consumers the power to choose their energy provider, onsite generation is now enabling customers to manage how they procure their energy and how they manage energy consumption.
Distributed energy resources such as solar, cogeneration, fuel cells and batteries are becoming more prevalent and a key part of a customer’s energy strategy ─ especially for those looking to protect critical infrastructure due to market volatility or other external threats. Solar development alone has experienced an annual growth rate of 68 percent in the past decade.
However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The proper due diligence must be performed to select the right mix of technologies and contractors as these assets will become a long-term part of a customer’s infrastructure.
The Driving Forces behind Distributed Energy Resources
There are several driving forces behind the increased adoption of distributed energy resources. Energy prices have become more transparent to consumers over the last couple decades. Competition for energy supply has created more awareness around rates and consumption. No longer price takers, customers have access to enhanced meter data, online billing options and energy management systems that provide analytics on how a facility uses energy. These data points are key in evaluating whether an onsite generation resource is economic or even feasible for a business.
As we rely more on data, electronics and the digital world, there is a greater need for energy resiliency. Whether we are talking about secure data centers, military bases or healthcare facilities, it’s clear we have become more dependent on energy, which ultimately drives our critical infrastructure. Geopolitical issues, physical and cyber terrorist threats and catastrophic weather events amplify our vulnerabilities and heighten the need for secure and reliable energy delivery.
The energy grid is evolving into a more complex and integrated structure. Onsite generation creates flexibility to effectively manage local demands, but traditional baseload generation and delivery still provide an economic avenue. Customers may want to evaluate the risks and costs associated with distributed energy resources to properly navigate emerging energy technologies, achieve resiliency and realize their financial goals. Each technology has its own specific attributes that should be analyzed given local market trends, availability of natural resources and regulatory constraints.
The right combination of technology, energy efficiency and energy supply can directly impact a customer’s bottom line. In addition to conserving energy, developing an onsite generation asset can help a customer optimize energy loads and reduce costs. Coupling shorter term payback projects like lighting replacements with distributed generation, a customer can improve overall project economics.
Project Spotlight: Hartford Microgrid
The city of Hartford, Connecticut made use of fuel cells to create a microgrid following a devastating Nor’easter that hit the region in October 2011, fresh on the heels of record-breaking Hurricane Irene three months earlier. The pair of storms caused 750,000 residential power outages, some of which lasted up to 11 days.
The microgrid is designed to provide 800 kW of emergency electricity in the event of a major grid outage to a collection of buildings providing core services including, a supermarket, senior center, elementary school, gas station and library.
Learn more by reading our case study here and watching our video below.
There is no question that consumers have more options when managing their energy supply and demand. The right supplier is needed to help a customer evaluate, implement and manage distributed energy resources to ensure long-term success. For more information on how Constellation can work with you to meet your goals and requirements, contact us today.
Guest Author: Johan Ulloa, Manager, Distributed Energy
As Manager of Distributed Energy at Constellation, Johan is responsible for building Constellation’s public sector and commercial energy project portfolio by delivering comprehensive energy savings, security and resiliency solutions to mission critical assets for installations, campuses, and municipalities. In this role, Johan is responsible for strategic planning, market research and driving sales and partnership opportunities across the public sector business line. Johan is an expert in commodity procurement strategies, energy efficiency, demand response, renewable technology, microgrids and distributed generation, and has coordinated the business development efforts for energy projects that incorporate various energy conservation measures and technologies.