• Distributed Energy Resources Management
  • Onsite Renewables
  • DER
  • Demand Side Management

Distributed Energy Strategies Drive Corporate Financial Sustainability

Jessie Mehrhoff
Aug 13, 2019

Connected City 4

Top headlines are often made by corporations that trend toward distributed and onsite energy management. This strategy makes sense, as getting a handle on energy management today stands to help companies position themselves for success in tomorrow’s world of emissions stringency and customer concerns over environmental health. But the investments corporations across industry verticals are no small feat. Several recent headlines include the following: 

  • The Solar Energy Industries Association released its Solar Means Business report which ranks companies by solar installations through 2018
  • Home Depot reduced its energy use by 26% (from 2010 levels) in 2018, ahead of its 20% reduction target
  • Planet Fitness announced its first net-zero energy fitness center in St. Petersburg, Florida
  • Tesco supermarkets are testing their refrigeration systems’ abilities to serve as a virtual battery

The list goes on, and for good reason; corporate sustainability initiatives have become more prominent components of Global Fortune 500 and large company business plans. These initiatives are supported through programs like Renewable Energy 100 and the Science-Based Targets Initiative.

Onsite Energy Resources Secure Cost-Savings

Returning to economics lessons of the triple bottom line, strategic onsite energy management is a necessary practice for companies to ensure their relevancy in the coming decade. In Navigant Research’s recent report, Implementing Corporate Onsite Distributed Energy Strategies, I identify nine reasons why companies should maximize the value of their energy through optimization of onsite distributed energy resource. The report's overview of onsite resources includes onsite generation, energy storage, charging equipment and fleet electrification, and enrollment in demand-side management (DSM) programs. While the relevancy of each technology varies by industry vertical, or even by company, deployment of distributed energy resources (DER) are expected to result in long-term cost-savings:

  • Optimization of interoperable technologies and enrollment in DSM programs can result in more efficient energy use and lower utility bills
  • Local rebates and incentives can reduce the time to ROI, especially as local energy savings and climate targets become more severe
  • New revenue streams can be created through incentive payments or the sale of excess power to the grid
Putting the Strategy in Strategic Onsite Energy Management

No two companies employ identical strategies to maximize the value of their onsite DER. However, several key themes emerge through conversations with corporate energy managers, technology vendors, and program implementers. First, companies should use all available emerging data streams to design their onsite energy strategy. Second, DER deployments should be undertaken in a modular fashion when integrated solutions prove cost-prohibitive. Engaging technology agnostic platforms will allow for future installations to be integrated into the existing corporate energy ecosystem. Finally, onsite energy management should be done in the most cost-effective manner for a given company. Energy managers should take advantage of financing mechanisms and grid integration to stack the value of multiple DER technologies. 

As corporate sustainability headlines fill my inbox each morning, I will continue to seek out new drivers for these newsworthy energy installations. While a few leaders lead the space, aspects of their strategies may be applicable more broadly and may be responsible for driving corporate energy management toward distributed, intelligent opportunities in generating new revenue streams.