Organizations today are always seeking ways to improve performance — that’s just what it takes to remain competitive and relevant in today’s fast-paced world. So, enterprises need to make smart business decisions to reduce inefficiency, expand operations, and manage risk.
One such area businesses must examine is power. How are they literally keeping their lights — and other crucial devices — turned on? And how much is their current energy solution costing them? Are they vulnerable to downtime if something goes wrong with the mainstream electric grid? These are all important questions to examine before disaster strikes, as it’s impossible to run any kind of organization without adequate power supply. Plus, energy represents a major operational expense.
One flexible energy solution you’ve probably been hearing more about lately is the microgrid. What unique features can microgrids offer to enterprises today? Keep reading to learn more.
Reducing Downtime & Outages
Downtime is a worst-case scenario for any business. Not only can it be costly to get your systems up and running again, but you’re losing all that productivity in the meantime.
One advantage microgrids offer enterprises is grid resilience, or the reduction of damage from power outages and problems. Mainstream power solutions offer a finite amount of reliability — especially in the face of unpredictable natural disasters. This means there’s a real chance your business will be out of commission for anywhere from a few hours to a few days or even weeks following an unfortunate catastrophe like a big thunderstorm.
Who suffers most during a power outage? Research from E Source found that these U.S. market segments experience about $27 billion annually in losses due to power outages: manufacturing, finance services, healthcare, government, offices, grocery stores and retail stores. The same report found that a four-hour outage can cost $10,000 to $20,000. You can imagine how expensive a multi-day or -week outage can be.
Microgrids allow organizations to go beyond the main grid — tapping into solar power and other distributed energy resources (DER) during interruptions. Microgrids are also intelligent enough to anticipate potential interruptions and switch your power source to DER in the event of an outage to ride out the storm uninterrupted.
Connecting to the Cloud
Electricity might seem like an old-fashioned utility, but it’s actually quite advanced these days. Or, at least, it can be advanced for organizations harnessing tech like cloud-connected microgrid solutions capable of interfacing with Internet of Things (IoT) devices, mobility sensors, data analytics and cybersecurity software.
Cloud microgrid architecture gives specialists the ability to monitor and manage resources remotely. And the system keeps collecting valuable data all the time, so leaders can use it to make smarter decisions based on performance metrics.
There’s simply no reason to leave something as important as power supply up to chance, nor to utilize clunky legacy technology to oversee energy usage.
Stabilizing Energy Costs
As a consumer, you know how much energy bills can fluctuate depending on season — air conditioning and heat sure aren’t cheap. Well, businesses experience these fluctuations too if they depend solely on the main grid for power.
As the U.S. Energy Information Administration writes, “electricity prices generally reflect the cost to build, finance, maintain and operate power plants and the electricity grid.” Factors like weather, demand, and regulations also affect pricing.
Microgrids are able to operate on an “Energy-as-a-service” model that eliminates the fluctuating costs associating with building and maintaining power plants; it also allows enterprises to understand and predict energy costs more consistently. This translates to fewer nasty surprises when you open that commercial energy bill, so to speak.
Offering Sustainability Opportunities
Last but not least, microgrids are able to harness solar power and DERs rather than relying solely on centralized power plants — which typically use natural gas, coal, oil and nuclear sources. Companies with sustainability goals will certainly appreciate this opportunity to reduce their carbon footprints.
Microgrids are changing how forward-thinking enterprises get their energy with their ability to reduce the risk of downtime, ramp up sustainability, harness data and stabilize long-term costs.