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Exploring the Business Case for Microgrid Implementation

Microgrids are a popular topic of discussion these days. In fact, we recently analyzed solar energy trend forecasts and found that microgrids and distributed generation are at the top of the list. Greater concern over energy security and independence, alongside rapidly advancing battery storage technology (see more about solar-plus-storage), has led many more solar consumers to consider microgrids and power storage as part of a holistic model for power generation and consumption.

While there’s a lot of excitement within the solar industry about the possibilities offered by distributed generation, consumers who are unfamiliar with the concept and practice may need more information in order to make informed decisions. That’s why we’re taking a deep dive into the business case for microgrid implementation and examining what businesses really get when they embrace distributed generation.

Business & Industrial Microgrid Applications

As industry resource Microgrid Knowledge notes, “as the fledgling microgrid industry matures, the technology’s advantages become apparent in more applications.” As the technology has moved from theoretical to real-world use, the range of early adopters has been wide. These pioneers can help us understand the appeal of microgrid adoption across diverse industries as well as the resulting benefits for businesses that implement them.

It’s no surprise that hospitals and healthcare facilities, for whom power loss can be catastrophic, are among the most enthusiastic first-wave microgrid adopters. “Hospitals use 2.5 times as much energy as commercial buildings of the same size,” Microgrid Knowledge writes, so “energy use is a top concern for healthcare executives, especially when they look at electricity price projections that show rates rising in the coming years.” Through the installation of advanced microgrids, hospitals can not only avoid power outages but optimize their energy usage. In contrast to generator systems that were previously employed to minimize power loss, a microgrid can “seamlessly integrate hospital power generation with their electric utility, back-up generators, and active on-site supply, all configured with a dynamic software intelligence.”

Other first adopters of microgrid technology include colleges and universities, particularly those with an emphasis on research, because“they provide a campus with reliable and affordable power on a 24/7 basis.” University research labs, like corporate and medical research departments, are often tightly-controlled environments in which power loss can cost years of effort and millions of dollars in lost investment. As a result, Microgrid Knowledge notes that “some of the most advanced microgrids in the U.S. are at universities.”

Joining hospitals, universities, government buildings, military bases, and others who have recognized the potential in microgrid systems, more and more businesses are embracing distributed generation for large office buildings, data centers, manufacturing and distribution facilities, and beyond. Their reasons are remarkably similar - energy independence, the ability to monitor and control energy usage, and the desire to avoid financial losses resulting from power outages.

The Financial Case for Microgrids & Energy Storage

There are many cases in which microgrids serve a concrete need, such as powering critical infrastructure during an outage (as in healthcare and military applications) or providing power to a remote or hard to reach facility that is not well served by existing infrastructure. But when it comes to powering business and commercial buildings with microgrids and energy storage, the case for implementing new technologies is frequently a financial one. As Jennifer Runyon, Chief Editor of Renewable Energy World, writes, “when you stack the revenue that a microgrid can offer — ancillary services, selling power on the wholesale market, carbon emission reduction and more,” we begin to understand why microgrids make financial sense for business and industrial applications.

As utility prices continue to rise and utility companies seek to preserve their monopoly on power sources, many business leaders are recognizing the financial impact that investing in sustainable, independent energy sources today will have on their future bottom line. The advancement of energy storage technology paired with sophisticated energy management systems means that businesses have the ability to increase energy independence, improve the resilience and value of their facilities, and create substantial savings.

There’s a bigger picture beyond financial savings and building resiliency as well. Businesses that implement renewable energy technologies such as microgrids or other solar-plus-storage systems also benefit from consumer attitudes regarding “green” companies and brands. In addition to sustainability and reduced power costs, commercial and industrial solar adopters benefit from the emerging wave of consumers who make buying decisions based in large part on environmental policies and impact. It’s a win-win situation for those who embrace cutting-edge technologies.

Our Commitment to Business & Industrial Clients

At Solar Design Studio, we believe in building a strong business case for solar adoption. Our expertise in all aspects of solar energy projects, from technology to design to installation, ensures that our clients receive the greatest possible return on their investment. That’s the commitment we make every time we embark on a new partnership.

If you’re ready to increase your energy independence, improve the resilience and value of your facilities, and save money on power, contact us today to start a conversation!

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