Contributed Commentary by Geoff Bland, Aggreko Product Manager of Power and Natural Gas
May 17, 2022 | Net Zero is a public goal for an increasing number of businesses as climate concerns grow to a crescendo. While admirable, the notion of completely overhauling the power solution for any business operation could be intimidating. Long-term infrastructure plans can be a major investment and can often take years to implement. However, like with most challenges, the transition to green energy is not an all-or-nothing situation. Temporary power solutions, from generators to energy storage, offer a green alternative while companies work toward their long-term goals. Because temporary power solutions can be both adaptable and affordable, companies can progress through the energy transition gradually.
Although there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for reaching Net Zero, alternative fuel and renewable energy sources, augmented with energy storage, can successfully reduce and eventually eliminate reliance on fossil fuels. With improved mobile battery technology providing the ability to maintain a surplus of power, the intermittency of wind and solar no longer inhibits their reliability and efficiency.
Energy storage in particular is a game changer for this approach. By integrating lithium-ion batteries into existing energy solutions, companies can achieve low-cost, high-quality power almost anywhere—putting them on the path to a clean and cost-effective Net Zero future.
Efficient and Effective
With fully integrated, plug-and-play battery storage solutions, temporary power providers can ensure maximum efficiency and effectiveness, as well as enable companies to minimize operating costs and shrink their carbon footprint.
Energy capacity and power needs can vary by business. Fortunately, batteries come as building blocks, designed to be more flexible, reliable, and cost effective depending on your company’s needs. Regardless, batteries reduce generator run time, thus decreasing fuel consumption and cutting both emissions and costs.
Batteries + Net Zero
In order to continue the drive towards Net Zero, reliable and efficient batteries are crucial for enabling renewable energy sources. The intermittency of wind and solar has widely inhibited their adoption. After all, solar panels aren’t useful on their own on a cloudy day, and wind turbines are helpless when the air is still. However, with improved battery technology able to store and maintain a surplus of power, these formerly unreliable modes of generation have gained new consistency and viability.
With the identification of batteries as critical elements in improving sustainability, suppliers are developing improved lithium-ion batteries that can be integrated into existing energy solutions. These batteries are designed to deliver lower-cost, better-quality solutions while reducing emissions—and can be deployed almost anywhere, with very little lead time.
Because most battery systems can be charged repeatedly, their stored energy can be utilized at any time—such as on a cloudy day when solar energy is not available.
Batteries can be paired in a number of ways, such as with generators to provide clean, round-the-clock power for different events. Many sporting events and concerts are utilizing this solution, powering events in a greener way.
In these situations, companies and vendors can also work with temporary power generation equipment suppliers to rent equipment on an as-needed or as-a-service basis. Whether rental equipment is needed for days or weeks, suppliers work to design the right combinations of systems—providing set up, testing and operating, and even packing up equipment following the event.
In remote areas, generators running on diesel, heavy fuel oil, or gas have been providing reliable power for years—often the only choice to ensure safe and stable electricity supply to these communities. With the rise of renewables, this has started to change.
With temporary rental equipment, battery systems and other paired technologies can be delivered nearly anywhere—even in an isolated or challenging location, such as islands, deserts, or remote mining areas. Rental solutions allow for a seamless delivery and transition while still delivering consistent, reliable power to local communities and businesses.
Battery Storage in Paradise
Take this example of how batteries can make a green impact even in isolated areas. With a relatively small grid, a wind farm in Maui was being severely under-used due to minimum operating levels causing reserve generators to provide often-unneeded power to the grid leading to curtailment of otherwise available wind power.
With the addition of an energy storage solution, the farm utilized battery storage for an increase in the overall acceptance of wind power from the wind farm to the grid. With the battery system providing regulating reserves, Maui Electric Company (MECO) was able to avoid running generators for the sole purpose of grid stability.
The result of this turnkey energy storage system was an estimated 17.5 GWh (of otherwise curtailed wind generation) now being delivered to the grid.
While the process to switch to greener solutions can appear overwhelming, companies should not be discouraged by the undertaking of a transition to Net Zero – nor should they wait for the perfect permanent solution to be developed before they act. With temporary solutions, companies can make fast-acting changes towards a greener future.
Batteries are well past being thought of as merely backup solutions – they can be so much more. When viewed as extensions of a power system, expanding the utility of temporary solar or wind, they open the door to endless possibilities for reaching Net Zero.
Geoff Bland is a recognized leader in the field of power generation with over 15 years of experience. His focus on reducing carbon footprint in the energy sector has helped Aggreko become a leader in this space, helping clients navigate and achieve their energy transition goals. He can be reached at Geoff.Bland@aggreko.com.