Laying out a clear pathway towards net zero for your organisation offers a host of clear benefits. As well as helping to contribute to global efforts towards combating climate change, better sustainability is an increasingly important aspect of how your brand is perceived by customers, partners and investors. With pressure growing in the UK to collectively meet a strict 2050 deadline, it is far better to be proactively building a net zero strategy that fits your organisation and its objectives, rather than reacting to potentially punitive legislation further down the line.
However, with the pressure to ‘go green’ seeming to be constantly increasing, it can be all too easy to commit to sustainability measures that do not deliver as intended. As well as potentially being a wasted investment, improper planning of your net zero options risks increasing your vulnerability to power disruption. In turn, this can compromise your productivity, profitability and the safety of your site.
The Pitfalls of Net Zero
A rush to demonstrate a commitment to net zero can pose a number of potential stumbling blocks. One of the most common, particularly as stakeholders become more educated and aware of the reality of net zero carbon emissions, is accusations of greenwashing. While the term has existed since 1986, in the past five years the perception that some sustainability efforts are simple hand-waving rather than concrete change has grown significantly.
In August, UK regulators launched an investigation into products labelled as ‘green’ or using 100% renewable energy, over fears that consumers are being misled. Simply purchasing your site’s power through a green tariff and assuming that is ticking the net zero box not only opens you up to accusations of greenwashing, but in the near future could see you fall foul of the Competition and Markets Authority. While these tariffs claim 100% renewable energy, signing up changes nothing in terms of the amount of renewable energy being used or carbon emissions being eliminated. The switch to clean energy has to come from demonstrable change adhering to ‘science-based targets’, sourcing green power that is traceable and driven by your organisation’s own commitments to net zero.
While there are other ways of doing this, such as with a direct Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with a green generator, the most obvious solution is to invest in on-site generation. While this represents a source of plentiful, cost-effective clean power when properly implemented, it is often here that your site’s power resilience can be compromised if not implemented properly.
Building Your Site Infrastructure
The most significant steps towards achieving net zero requires investment in major power infrastructure projects, such as on-site generation or rapid EV charging to allow you to shift fleets away from internal combustion engines. Both have the potential to slash your carbon footprint, but similarly both risk compromising your access to secure, reliable site-wide power if improperly implemented.
Behind-the-Meter (BtM) generation such as solar PV can be problematic in that it is inherently inflexible. If your site has demand for power overnight, your investment in rooftop solar is unable to contribute. At best, this leaves you resorting to more expensive mains power which your investment in solar was supposed to prevent. If your solar was intended to provide additional power because you required more than your grid connection was able to supply, it risks compromising the power resilience of your whole site, forcing you to reduce or offset activity or risk more significant disruption.
EV charging can have a similarly profound impact on your organisation’s carbon footprint, but also brings with it a very high power demand that your grid connection may not be able to fulfil. In many cases, your local distribution network may already be under pressure and can see your proposed project, whether on-site generation or rapid charging, turned down outright. Even if approved, often at significant additional cost for an increase in your authorised capacity, this risks further exposing your site to the increasing risk of disruption to your grid supply.
Battery energy storage systems (BESS) can help to unlock these projects, as well as providing all-important, site-wide power resilience through full Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) capabilities. The ability to safely store excess power on-site helps to maximise the efficiency of on-site generation, and can also be used to provide the additional electricity required to operate high demand technologies like rapid charging. As well as this additional flexibility, the technology prevents disruption by providing instantaneous backup power in the case that your supply is disrupted, whether that is as a result of disruption to grid supply or within your own site infrastructure. By embracing battery energy storage and UPS technologies, your organisation is able to then implement the bold technology options that have the potential to unlock net zero without compromising the safe, stable power needed to continue your operations unhindered.
To find out more about Powerstar’s innovative technology and how it can your organisation implement net zero projects without negatively impacting your power resilience, contact our team here.