Sustainability is at the forefront of many companies’ and consumers’ minds. Along with customer demands, enterprises must contend with the many new government requirements to lower their carbon footprints. However, current options for clean energy are often expensive, deterring businesses from investing. Microgrids might be the answer these organizations are searching for.
What Are Microgrids?
Microgrids are local electricity grids with restricted boundaries, meaning they serve a smaller area than a standard power grid. They provide better access to electricity in remote areas and can improve resiliency during natural disasters.
Microgrids traditionally work like larger grids by dispersing fossil-fuel-generated power but can operate with sustainable energy. The grids could distribute solar, wind or biogas electricity to offer greater access to sustainable energy. Thus, an enterprise would not have to purchase its own clean-energy system and could instead switch to a green microgrid.
What Are the Benefits of Microgrids?
Companies should look into the benefits microgrids can provide instead of relying on the standard, outdated electricity grid. Here are some reasons to make the switch or advocate for a local microgrid.
1. Better Access to Sustainable Energy
Big brands like Walmart and Starbucks aim to use more wind and solar power in their stores, but what if an organization is too remote? What if it cannot invest in clean energy? These are pressing questions many businesses must find answers to. Only some have a local solar installer and the funds to purchase a system.
Switching to a renewable microgrid allows participating in green initiatives. For example, six microgrid installations in California will produce 4.2 megawatts (MW) of solar electricity throughout 14 locations. Additionally, it will have 3.8 MW hours of battery storage for peak demand and power outages. Connecting to a renewable-energy microgrid is an excellent way to become sustainable without purchasing a standalone system.
2. Cost Savings
The power coming from microgrids often costs less. While inflation increased prices by 6.5% in 2022, electricity costs rose more than 14%. Additionally, heat could cost 10% more in the winter of 2023. Those increases will harshly affect businesses, as they often have larger facilities to power and heat. Keeping equipment at the proper temperature is vital for efficient operation and ensuring employees are comfortable during their workdays.
Instead of relying on the primary grid, a microgrid could help organizations save money. Advanced microgrids can analyze when electricity prices are at their highest and start using their own resources to mitigate those costs. They also distribute energy efficiently, meaning customers are not paying extra for power delivery.
3. Increased Uptime
Microgrids are far more resilient than traditional grids. In the days following Winter Storm Uri in February 2021, Texans exceeded the estimated power demands by 9,600 MW. However, the state could not produce enough electricity to meet those requests due to the freezing temperatures, leading to over 3.5 million people struggling to acclimate to the cold.
Microgrids could help solve such a problem. Businesses experiencing an extreme event or weather disaster can worry less about the occurrence knocking out their grid. It could still happen, but a smaller grid has less chance of destruction than a larger one. Additionally, serving fewer customers means the microgrid has more opportunity to create enough power to keep companies operating no matter the circumstances.
Businesses Must Consider Microgrids
Companies must find ways to stay afloat amid the climate crisis and rising costs. Switching to a microgrid could solve the issues of sustainability investments, price hikes and increased outages from worsening weather. This would keep businesses running smoothly and making profits despite the circumstances. Any enterprise interested in a microgrid should consider using one for its various benefits.
Jane Marsh works as the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she covers environmental news and sustainable living tips.