Business leaders today have more energy choice than at any time in history. Most of the attention has been given, rightfully, to wind and solar. These two options—particularly solar—are making an immense impact in the world today. The systems are increasingly efficient, cost-effective and available in many areas. Research into energy sources like geothermal and biomass is also improving and these alternatives may prove viable for certain businesses, if not now, then in the future.
With so much choice, it can be difficult for business leaders to select the right option for their facilities. To help you select the right alternative energy system for your organization’s needs, take a closer look at the benefits—and challenges—that come when implementing each option. Consider your organization’s needs and capabilities, as well.
Solar: Solar has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 60 percent in the last decade. There are a number of reasons for this incredible surge. The cost of installing a system has come down 70 percent in that same time period. Because so many businesses have access to direct sunlight at their facilities, it is also one of the most widely available renewable options. There may be tax credits and multiple financing options available to provide additional financial benefits to businesses that install solar systems.
Wind: The renewable wind industry is anticipated to grow at a rate of 13 percent yearly through 2022. Wind is one of the most cost-effective energy sources (between 4 and 6 cents per kilowatt hour, according to the Department of Energy). However, most of the growth in wind is centered on grid-scale electricity generation due to logistical constraints. To operate most efficiently, wind turbines must be installed in large, open spaces high enough to catch strong breezes well off the ground. Unlike solar, which can be used pretty much anywhere, wind is not viable for a large number of businesses.
Biomass: Created through a chemical process when organic matter decomposes or burns, biomass helps generate energy while disposing of waste in an environmentally friendly way. However, there are a few reasons why it may be difficult for some businesses to leverage this alternative energy source. It can be costly to put the infrastructure in place and to purchase the fuel to generate your own energy from biomass. As such, it might be difficult to justify installing a biomass system unless your particular business generates excessive organic waste—mills and agriculture are particular industries that may benefit.
While solar energy is the most widely accessible of these alternative energy sources today, technological advances are happening every day that may make all of these options viable in the near future. To learn more about all your energy options, check out ConEdison Solutions.