The race to achieve net zero, and mitigate the most damaging effects of rising global temperatures, means that companies are facing enormous changes in how they operate. The most profound changes have largely been in the way that they source and use energy. While switching to clean energy through the use of renewable sources such as wind or solar, either generated on-site or sourced through ‘green energy procurement’ may seem a simple solution, carried out without proper thought as to how it will affect your overall energy resilience can leave you exposed to the risk of power disruption. At worst, this could see your organisation experiencing brownouts or blackouts that can have an extremely detrimental effect on your productivity, profitability, and workplace safety.
Why More Green Energy Means Less Certainty
More renewable generation spread across the grid is to be welcomed, providing energy that is far cleaner than traditional fossil fuel generation, at prices that are increasingly competitive, if not already cheaper. However, it is important to bear in mind that our antiquated power distribution system was never designed to deal with such a complex mix of minute-by-minute, weather dependent inputs and outputs, raising the risk of localised disruption as individual substations struggle to juggle shifting demands for energy.
The unfortunate side effect of the UK’s switch towards renewable energy generation is that the old grid, based on baseload generation from coal, nuclear and gas-fired power plants, is becoming a thing of the past. While wind and solar energy is plentiful and clean, it is also intermittent; we can’t turn the sun and wind up or down, leaving us with periods of very high generation on sunny, windy days, and periods where it falls drastically and very quickly, such as a period of low wind and sun, or overnight.
Managing the Transition to Low Carbon
The need for the UK, and the world as a whole, to drastically reduce their carbon output is not going away, and growing pressure, both legislative and social, means that businesses no longer have the option of simply choosing not to act. Therefore, it is vital that an effective carbon reduction strategy, particularly when it comes to your energy use, also incorporates effective planning and measures to ensure that your energy supply remains stable, reliable, and risk-free.
This is where better energy resilience comes in. While your energy usage, particularly for electricity, is becoming increasingly complex, it is important to keep track of how your usage is changing, as well as how your demand will continue to change in the future, shaped by low carbon measures you may want, or be compelled, to introduce, such as electric heating or EV charging points.
Ensuring your carbon reduction strategy provides you with sufficient energy resilience should be considered a core aspect of any risk, planning and mitigation process, with as much focus placed on it as that given to the impact it will have on reducing energy costs and lowering carbon footprint. What that strategy looks like will vary from business to business, depending on your current energy use, long-term plans, exposure to risks and existing infrastructure.
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31 March 2021