For decades businesses were essentially at the mercy of utility plants and their transmission grids to receive crucial power for business operations. While for the most part this has proven to be okay, it nevertheless left companies with no control over price increases and subject to devastating shortfalls if there was a power disruption. In recent years, however, all of that is changing and companies are gaining much greater power autonomy. The reason for these advancements: Distributed power generation.
What Is Distributed Power Generation?
In a conventional power model, energy is generated in massive quantities at a large-scale power plant and then distributed across a transmission grid to end users. By contrast distributed power generation, commonly known as DG for short, refers to power that is generated on-site at, or very close to, the location where it will be used. Many distributed generators are not connected to the power grid at all. Others may be connected and may even sell energy surpluses to the grid, profiting from their own power generation instead of expending money from the exchange as is the case in the conventional model.
The Benefits of Distributed Power Generation
Distributed power generation is an exciting development that has the potential to completely revolutionize the power landscape. There are a host of benefits which range from economic to environmental. Some of the key benefits of distributed power generation include the following:
Remote Is No Longer a Problem – In the conventional power model remote locations that were off the power grid were unable to receive energy, severely limiting where plants and facilities could be built. Likewise remote islands and small nations such as those in the Caribbean or Latin America were dependent almost exclusively on power imports, making them particularly vulnerable to market volatility and thus stifling their economic growth. Distributed power generation eliminates that problem.
Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions – Many distributed power generators use much cleaner fuel sources than the traditional model. This in turn helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thereby benefiting the environment and helping to generate good will for the company. In this age of increasing emissions regulations distributed power may also help companies stay in the good graces of regulators.
Enhanced Power Security – As discussed above market volatility, weather disasters, and other disruptions had the potential to shutdown a company reliant on the traditional energy model. By contrast with distributed power generation there is much greater power security since the power is generated on-site and will continue to be available regardless of world affairs or weather occurrences.
Fast Implementation – Distributed power generation is relatively fast to implement and can often be completely set up on a large scale within a year or less. Additionally, as demand increases at the site more capacity can quickly and easily be added.
Better Power Efficiency – One of the most important benefits of distributed power generation is its remarkably better power efficiency. In the traditional energy model only about 28-35% of fuel consumed is actually used for power. This is due in large part to power loss related to transmission and distribution. By contrast because distributed power is generated on-site distribution is a moot point. This allows distributed power generation to attain efficiency of 50% or greater.
Wider Acceptance – In years past the spread and implementation of distributed power was largely blocked by skepticism, inertia, and stringent regulations. However, in recent years alternative fuel sources have sparked a great deal of interest and inspired regulatory agencies to take a look at distributed power generation and to recognize its benefits. The modern era is ripe for the spread of distributed power generation.
Polaris is excited to be at the forefront of the distributed power generation movement. We recently completed work implementing distributed power generation for a global beverage manufacturer, allowing the company to dramatically reduce its energy costs while simultaneously increasing its efficiency. We look forward to bringing these same benefits to more clients.