With the changing nature of the energy network and the aims of businesses to have power resiliency as they strive towards carbon neutrality, it can often be difficult to determine exactly what needs to be done to ensure reliable and sustainable energy both now and in the future. This is why Centrica Business Solutions recently produced a report entitled ‘Future-proofing your company’s energy needs’, and, in this Industry Insight, Powerstar will summarise the key findings of this report including:
Resilience and sustainability
Due to the impact of Industry 4.0, the digitalisation of industry, many organisations are becoming increasingly reliant upon energy to carry out what are now business-as-usual operations in their companies which were not required previously, with self-service checkouts being an example of a now universal standard that has been developed due to advances in technology. As a result of such standards, organisations are more dependent than ever on electricity and face serious financial, operational, and reputational risks in the event of an unexpected power failure, with energy-related failures having the potential to cost as much as 17% of a company’s annual revenues.
Coupled with the need to protect the security of supply, organisations are also facing the need to decarbonise. This is because there are worldwide pressures on Governments, whether through legal obligations that nations have signed up to such as the Paris Climate Agreement , or environmental activism to decarbonise their economies to minimise the effects of climate change and prevent climate catastrophe. To achieve this, businesses need to take it upon themselves to decarbonise and will be incentivised to do so by Governments and disincentivised to continue to use unsustainable energy sources, with the UK’s Climate Change Levy increase being a clear sign of such measures.
The Centrica report1 highlights that although resilience is of growing importance, many remain unprepared, with 73% of those surveyed saying that they feel less than “very well prepared” for an interruption in power supply.
The importance of energy security
The financial risks of a lack of supply security are becoming increasingly well-known, but what is not such common knowledge is how the risk of a low energy security compares to other risks facing businesses. The findings from Centrica indicate that energy security and resilience is now a top four business risk, with only cyber-crime, disruption to the business model caused by external market factors, and lack of funding being perceived as larger risks. The factors which are seen as less risky than energy resilience and security include shocks such as political uncertainty, brand damage, and natural disasters.
It is also the case that although companies that are embracing digitalisation more than others are the most exposed to the risks of a lack of energy security, they are also more likely to have the technologies in place to combat potential power failures. This is evidenced by 87% of what Centrica categorised as sustainable businesses agreeing with the statement “As more of our processes and offerings become digitalised, resilience to power interruption becomes vitally important” as opposed to only 63% of businesses not categorised as sustainable agreeing with the statement. This shows a clear relationship, businesses that have positioned themselves in such a way that they need energy resilience are also most aware of its benefits. Due to the environment surrounding these industries, such as the aforementioned Industry 4.0, it is likely that these companies are market leaders and others will soon follow suit in regards to digitalisation and, consequently, the importance that they attach to energy resilience.
Options for businesses
With the increased digitalisation of businesses and heightened risks of not being energy resilient, it is evident that a growing number of businesses are required to turn their attention towards putting in place an energy resilience strategy. The Centrica report provides compelling evidence of the business case for this, finding that a business with an energy resilience strategy is 34% more likely to report strong financial performance.
The report also states that “Businesses who invest in battery and on-site generation technologies are more likely to say this has delivered certain benefits than those who have invested in other technologies. These benefits include improved resilience against supply interruption, and the prevention of a costly operational failure.”
The above is certainly something that has been achieved by those companies that have implemented a Powerstar VIRTUE energy storage solution. Due to its full Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) capabilities, that can also be seamless and provide backup to the load in the case of an energy-related failure in less than a millisecond, it protects businesses from supply interruptions and the damaging costs of them. Additionally, it can maximise renewables by storing renewable energy at peak generation for later use to boost an organisation’s sustainability credentials.
An example of Powerstar VIRTUE’s effectiveness as a solution can be found here, as a metallics manufacturer avoided the damages of a localised energy failure caused by extreme weather due to its VIRTUE solution, instead the energy failure was only noticed when analysing the data after the event due to the operations of the site continuing as normal despite other companies suffering power shortages.
Further to the case of enhancing onsite generation with battery energy storage, existing assets such as combined heat and power solutions (CHP) can see their effectiveness enhanced through integrating with battery energy storage which Powerstar has explained recently.
Energy resilience is an issue that is certain to grow in importance in the coming years. This is why the most prudent activity for organisations is to take action now and develop an energy resilience strategy that has proven and effective technologies, such as battery storage, at its heart.
 Centrica Business Solutions – Future-proofing your company’s energy needs