Centrica Survey: Businesses See Rapid Movement Toward On-site Energy

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Over 80 percent of US businesses foresee one-quarter of energy for businesses coming from on-site energy sources within just seven years, according to a new report by Centrica Business Solutions.

on-site energy

By Federico Rostagno/Shutterstock.com

The findings come from a survey of 1,000 companies in the US, UK, Germany, Ireland and Italy, conducted by the distributed energy company in an effort to unravel business approaches to energy reliability and energy efficiency.  

About a quarter of businesses surveyed have already invested in solar or combined heat and power, with a third more considering investing in these technologies, according to the subsidiary of UK-based energy company Centrica.

Technology drives businesses toward energy self-reliance. Over half (58 percent) of the most energy efficient companies in the survey use three or more different measures to track energy.

“Businesses that have adopted smart energy solutions — such as wireless sensors, building management systems/building automation systems and analytics — are more likely to say they’re strongly over-performing compared to similarly sized competitors for growth and profitability,” the study noted.

Fear of failure spurs on-site energy

Nearly three-quarters of surveyed organizations agreed that the cost of being energy resilient is less than the cost of a power failure

Fear of failure appears to be spurring on-site power investments. “The biggest problem has been interruption to energy supply caused by external factors, such as grid failures due to high demand or extreme weather. Almost one third have also faced problems where internal factors, including equipment failure, have interrupted their supply,” the study noted.

Nearly three-quarters of surveyed organizations agreed that the cost of being energy resilient is less than the cost of a power failure. Not surprising, then, the majority (88 percent) of companies have an energy resilience plan. On the down side, little more than half of them test it regularly and many don’t assess resilience at all locations.

Rewards from “increasing, decreasing or shifting their energy use” also act as an encouragement toward installing distributed energy.  Over one third are already selling excess capacity back to the grid, participating in supply-side or demand-side incentives. The study also found another 44 percent of businesses plan to feed energy into the grid in the future

Lack of energy backup

While 35 percent of U.S. businesses have a formalized energy strategy in place, just 20 percent have energy backup to address power outages, according to the study. And few organizations have access to the granular data required to drive improvements in operational performance. Only 24 percent of organizations in the study say they assess energy use continuously.

To address these problem survey sponsor Centrica Business Solutions North America chief Stephen Prince advises, “It’s necessary for businesses to take control of their energy use and have an actionable energy strategy in place whether that includes goals for resilience measures, emissions targets, or increased onsite generation.”

Centrica conducted the survey in late 2017 and issued a report on the findings in August 2018. The 1,000 respondents were from companies with 100 or more employees. Thirty percent of the respondents were from the US; 20 percent from the UK; 20 percent from Italy; 20 percent from Germany; 5 percent from Canada and 5 percent from Ireland.

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About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than three decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.