are piling into clean tech with an upswing in investing that considers environmental,
social, and governance, or ESG investing, as I recently discussed in my Forbes
blog. But when it
comes down to the implementation of clean tech in the power sector, we are
still overcoming the misperception that cost and reliability is worse than on-grid
power solutions. The truth is that power reliability and cost is equitable if
not better with renewable off-grid solutions, which can have a positive impact
on the bottom line now and in the future.
Here are 5 ways that smart off-grid power can positively impact power
needs and the bottom line.
1. Ensuring Reliable & Up-to-date Power
Recently, changing weather patterns have highlighted the inadequacy of North
America’s current power infrastructure. More drastic weather swings, like the
recent snow storm in Texas and the 2020 wildfires in
California are highlighting the shortcomings of the current grid infrastructure
in its ability to not only meet current power demands, but withstand weather
extremes. This is because many grid systems are older and not designed
to meet growing demands or the planet’s weather.
off-grid power can correct these issues without spending billions on a new grid.
the amount of grid infrastructure needed by eliminating the burden on distribution
software to manage power, which is updated on an ongoing basis, so the system
is always up-to-date and gets the predictive analytics algorithms formed from larger
analysis of all power systems;
Energy-as-a-Service, so owners of smart off-grid power systems don’t need to
worry about replacing batteries or managing power as this is all automated;
that the latest technologies in batteries, control and solar panels/wind
turbines are implemented, so the system can optimize its power.
2. Using Green Initiative Funding to Fund Power
Upgrades, Expansions or Changes
climate change initiatives on the rise and a growing implementation of
technology related to the Internet of Things (IoT), governments are funding “smart”
or “clean tech” initiatives.
benefits are numerous: cost savings,
environmental impact, reduction in carbon emissions, and safety for citizens.
By investigating local and federal funding initiatives, cities and states can
implement smart off-grid solutions and save money now as well as in the future.
- Look for a
solution to include carbon credit tracking for reporting programs, for programs
that want to see the impact;
Implement technology that can show reporting on power usage to create business
cases for savings and gain stakeholder buy in for future upgrades;
Ensure the investments you make have a very long system life with a guaranteed
Think outside the box about where you can implement smart off-grid power –
industrial lighting for paths, parking lots, city streets, bridges, new housing
developments; or nano-grid power packs for telecom towers, IoT solutions,
security, grid supplementation, rural power and more. If you do the business
case, you will find that there are many applicable projects.
3. Decreasing Costs for Other Services
Many cities are looking to find cost-effective
ways to improve safety, reduce crime rates and improve neighborhoods to reduce
money spent on policing, healthcare while attracting business to drive growth
in the area.
that many cities are looking to do this is through the use of lighting. By
lighting rural intersections, main streets or high crime areas, crimes and
accidents due to poor visibility can be reduced. Chicago and New York are
looking into this with new projects aimed at reducing crime. North Dakota is implementing smart off-grid lighting to
illuminate rural intersections.
4. Reducing Power Infrastructure Costs
When it comes
to installing outdoor lighting, cost plays a huge factor in the decision
regarding which type of solution (on-grid or off-grid) makes the most sense. When
grid power isn’t available or is unreliable, non-expandable, or overtaxed, it
can be a costly endeavor for installation of lighting poles and maintenance.
Cost to implement lighting where grid is required can include:
Grid connection fees, including meters, breakers, distribution panels,
Concrete disruption and repaving costs;
Hits against the local economy due to longer and bigger construction projects
to bring grid power in.
there are monthly utility charges. Depending on whether its public or
privatized, as the Texas situation showed us, these costs can vary drastically. When solar-powered
streetlights were compared to grid-powered streetlights, the cost differences
were staggering in both CAPEX and OPEX.
*Data from Clear Blue’s analysis of total cost of
ownership for Solar powered and grid powered streetlights.
Once upon a
time, the only phone was a land line phone.
Today wireless is the standard.
Soon, wireless power will be the only way we do street lighting. The days of cabling to a pole will be long
past. With the total cost of ownership (TCO) for smart off-grid solutions
significantly lower than on-grid solutions the business case is clear and in favor
of smart off-grid implementation.
5. Protection from Weather and Natural Disasters
growing number of natural disasters decaying infrastructure, the power industry
now requires systems that can adapt and anticipate changing weather to protect and
provide power to citizens.
on-grid systems are often not “smart” and have no resiliency. It’s one big
single point of failure. With smart off-grid solutions, customers can avoid
lights-out situations, rolling black outs, large wind or extreme heat/cold from
knocking out the system.
- Every off-grid system is its own
independent system. A street with 10
lights has 10 completely independent power systems. To have the entire street lose its lighting
would mean 10 separate systems would have to fail. For the grid, its 1 system – on or off;
When those off-grid systems are smart, advanced notice of failures are
generated for preventative action, remote troubleshooting and maximum uptime is
Predictive energy and weather forecasting in Smart Off-Grid provides the ability to forecast the service
uptime and avoid potential outages, due to winter storms or summer heatwaves;
Remote energy management and light load control enables energy consumption to
be reduced by 5-10% at non critical times.
Alternatively, energy can be borrowed from the battery for emergency
ride throughs, with the ability to go in later and perform maintenance on the
battery remotely to bring the battery back up to full health. In this way, even the worst weather periods
can be managed.
off-grid power, full blackouts
are a thing of the past because you aren’t relying on 50-year-old infrastructure
that can’t meet the needs of the community. With opportunities for funding,
it’s easy to fund smart off-grid projects and they can also help reduce costs
for other areas like city safety and security. Additionally, these systems can
also help reduce costs for other areas like city safety and security. Smart
off-grid has a proven lower TCO than grid systems, where infrastructure isn’t
available and can also provide more protection and reliable power in weather
clean tech initiative is more than just being trendy or saving the planet. It
is about real solutions that can deliver the lowest cost while providing
outstanding and reliable power or lighting with wide ranging benefits to other
sectors. Real solutions with real impact. That is the value of clean tech and
smart off-grid solutions.