Australia has committed to a target of net-zero emissions by 2050. Many notable Australian Commercial & Industrial (C&I) businesses and publicly owned entities are demonstrating leadership by making their own commitment to net-zero in both their operations and supply chains. There are many options to help businesses achieve these goals with microgrids playing an increasingly vital role.
Why are C&I businesses building microgrids?
While microgrids are relatively new to C&I businesses, they have been around for some time and used widely in defence and remote applications (e.g. mining & resources) for the primary purposes of resilience and off-grid operation. However, as increasing pressure on the electricity grid impacts its reliability and flexibility, the benefits of generating, storing, and controlling energy through a local microgrid is fast gaining the attention of C&I businesses.
INCREASING OPERATIONS RESILIENCE
Where consistent supply is paramount, microgrids deliver. Microgrids can operate autonomously from the main grid for short periods, allowing the continued operation of critical assets during otherwise costly and damaging power outages or disruptions. Organisations with operations dependent on consistent and reliable power (such as data centers, manufacturing facilities, hospitals, or storage facilities relying on refrigeration), can benefit significantly from the increased energy security of their microgrids.
DELIVERING ENERGY SAVINGS
The cost of energy is an all-important topic and microgrids are helping cut costs by giving organisations access to cheaper energy sources such as onsite solar or reducing grid demand. Microgrids can also create revenue through energy arbitrage opportunities and services provided to the central grid. They are very efficient as electricity generation is very close to its consumption, reducing transmission and distribution losses significantly.
ACHIEVING NET-ZERO EMISSIONS TARGETS
Australian businesses are taking the lead in the race to net-zero and microgrids are a great way to access clean energy and help you reach your targets through the integration of renewable energy like solar and batteries. Microgrids can also integrate with existing assets such as diesel or gas generators or provide a low or even no cost opportunity to switch to battery backup that reduces emissions and increases load flexibility.
What is a microgrid?
A microgrid is a local energy grid, that can operate independently from the traditional grid if required or beneficial. They can vary significantly in size, from only one building to large industrial facilities and entire communities. They comprise of a collection of distributed energy generation, load and storage assets (such as solar, energy storage/batteries, EV charging stations, controllable loads such as chillers or pumps, etc.) managed by advanced control systems that are customised to meet specific end-user needs and goals.
A key feature of microgrids is their flexibility. They can quickly switch between operating modes (such as import vs export) to respond to price, end-user demand and environmental conditions. This flexibility is what enables the all-important resilience and emission reduction as well as revenue opportunities.
How are businesses deploying microgrids?
C&I microgrids are being developed in increasing numbers and are becoming more and more commercially attractive as grid volatility increases and hardware costs come down.
Some microgrids can be capital intensive to implement, but they can deliver significant savings and financial benefits consistently over time. C&I customers are turning to solutions such as Verdia’s Energy as a Service (EaaS) offering which is able to deliver microgrids for businesses without requiring upfront investment on their part.
While some energy users may choose to provide capital and assume ownership of a microgrid system, an EaaS solution provides a number of benefits. Microgrids delivered under an EaaS model are designed, built, owned, operated, and maintained by an energy service provider such as Verdia who specialises in these types of projects. Under this model, Verdia provides the capital to build the microgrid and assumes responsibility of its ownership, operation, and maintenance for an agreed term (typically 10-20 years), at a pre-agreed pricing model for the energy and services delivered by the microgrid system.