Charting a path to achieve ambitious sustainability or energy goals – whether economics, risk or resiliency related – is challenging when looking at one or two factors in isolation. Similarly, making decisions about one component of the energy mix will have consequences on other existing or prospective components in the portfolio.
A holistic energy strategy reviews all energy supply options concurrently, during the earliest planning stages, and can ensure that each piece is refined to the optimal size, cost, and structure within the broader portfolio.
There are more options than ever for organizations to diversify electric and thermal energy supplies. This presents an opportunity to reduce cost, mitigate risk and reap the environmental benefits of the ever-evolving landscape of new technologies, services, and business models. Taking a holistic view of all energy supply options at your organization’s disposal can help identify the stepping stones for transforming your energy portfolio and achieving your goals.
Where do we start?
In order to plan comprehensively, it is important to have an accurate picture of your current energy supply mix. This will help your organization increase your understanding of unexplored options, identify the most efficient way to achieve your goals, and help build a strong internal business case for the changes you seek to achieve.
Energy efficiency is typically the first step for organizations looking to achieve energy goals. These steps often represents the “low-hanging-fruit” for organizations due to existing internal capacity to implement, declining costs, and increasing incentives from utilities. These measures alone are likely insufficient to achieve an organization’s goals.
What key components should we consider?
Electric and Thermal Energy Needs
To develop a holistic energy strategy, organizations must assess both their electric and thermal energy needs, and consider the breadth of options to supply these demands.
Electricity supply options fall under three main categories:
- Utility-supplied power
- Onsite generation
- Offsite generation
Thermal supply options can be divided into:
- Centrally generated onsite
- Distributed onsite
- District options
Within all the divisions above, a range of generation technologies (both conventional and renewable) and contracting structures are available to meet an organization’s electrical and thermal energy needs. This diversity of opportunities helps balance cost, risk, and sustainability performance across the energy portfolio to match your objectives.
Demand Side Energy Management and Storage
In addition to electric and thermal supply options, demand side energy management and storage initiatives should be assessed as part of a holistic energy strategy.
Equally, storage can present a compelling opportunity for certain organizations, based on their market, load profile or need for resiliency.
How do we reach an optimized solution?
The number of supply options, the growing list of technologies and service providers, and variety of business models can be overwhelming to energy managers as they look to enhance their organizations approach. Developing a holistic energy strategy is a crucial component to optimizing a long-term energy strategy.
If your organization does not fully understand the landscape of options in the market today, the statue quo may be preferred to entering into the murky waters of energy planning. A structured, fact-based, analytical process for designing a holistic energy strategy can take organizations from the earliest stages of exploration to implementation of a customized solution.
If your organization faces energy cost uncertainty, has ambitious environmental goals, or questions the resilience of current energy supply, it is time to develop a holistic energy strategy.