Renewable energy for business: 4 key trends to watch in 2020

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Energy powers everything in our lives – our homes, cars, and businesses – but how often do we stop to think about it and where it comes from? Renewable sources like solar, wind, and hydro offer the promise of clean, abundant, and cost-effective power for businesses. While renewables are yet to take over from traditional sources like coal and gas for electricity generation, they are gaining ground. 2020 will be an exciting year for renewable energy; a year likely to bring more leaps and bounds in everything from storage to accessibility and cost efficiencies. We explore what the key trends in renewable power could be for the coming year and what they could have in store for your business.

1. Energy storage

Energy storage is a critical issue for renewables adoption. This is because effective storage resolves the irregular and unpredictable supply associated with solar, wind, and other renewable sources. Efficient storage balances power supply with demand while enhancing steadiness of supply, regardless of how weather conditions are impacting generation.

Battery technology is constantly advancing and costs are plummeting. In 2020, energy-storage technologies like batteries could further improve, which in turn could make batteries even cheaper and more viable for your business. This could allow commercial and industrial sites to more fully leverage free, non-polluting sources of energy, where these sites might have previously avoided solar out of fears of unreliable supply. With battery storage on a grid-connected site, you could sell more unused energy back to the grid and even have a credit on your power bills.

Similarly, storage is gaining ground at the utility level, which could enhance access to reliable renewable energy right from the grid – without you having to install a small-scale system on your site. Ultimately, more efficient battery storage at both the utility level and at the level of individual sites could drive cheaper energy costs and more reliable power.

2. Microgrids

A microgrid is a localised power grid that operates independently while staying connected to the larger, traditional grid. These smaller grids offer sites independence from the main grid, along with the benefit of having power during blackouts and emergencies. They can be used in a private property for a single household or a business, or they can serve a whole community in a regional or rural area.

In 2020, businesses could start making use of microgrids enabled by AI. AI or machine learning technology could significantly heighten the efficiency of microgrids, enabling continuous learning and adaptation. AI could also make deployment and set-up of microgrids much faster and far more cost effective. Microgrids are already in high demand in regions like California and countries like Palau. For businesses, microgrids with integrated AI could offer new levels of efficiency, cost savings, and reliability. These tools could also have features that empower you to better understand how much energy you use, including your use relative to other businesses, which could drive smarter energy-use processes in your operations.

3. Increasing grid parity

2020 could be a milestone year for grid parity as alternative energy costs continue to fall. Grid parity happens when renewable or alternative sources of power can generate power at the same cost or more cheaply than conventional methods like oil or gas, and offer performance levels equal or better than traditional hydrocarbon sources. This modular and distributed power generation model is in part being enabled by automation technologies like AI and blockchain, which are making renewable integration into the grid easier, as well as boosting grid reliability and resilience in the process. In addition, solar and wind are already more efficient and cost-effective, and so are also helping to make grid parity a reality sooner rather than later.

Already, experts are predicting that renewables in Australia will reach parity by 2020. At the end of the day, increasing grid parity could bring about cheaper power and stronger green credentials for your business. The latter could enhance your reputation and brand in the eyes of consumers and clients, who increasingly value sustainability when making purchasing decisions.

4. Solar technology breaking into offices

Purchasing GreenPower accredited renewable energy is one of the easiest ways to power your office with solar (and other types of renewable) energy. Additionally, businesses around the world already make use of solar systems for some or all of their power needs. For urban environments, solar systems tend to be better than other renewable options like hydropower or wind because they’re more space efficient.

However, solar technology could be breaking into offices in other ways in 2020. Australian researchers have created inexpensive carbon nanotubes that can be sprayed onto windows on high-rises to create solar-cell windows. These could eventually generate enough energy to power whole buildings. These nanotubes are transparent, so they don’t block out light and are far more cost-effective and efficient than silicon-based solar cells. This makes them ideal for large-scale applications like office buildings, which have intensive energy requirements. These trends could all make it cheaper and more viable for your business to draw on solar energy.

2020: a promising year for renewable energy

Energy is essential for just about every process in your operations, and new technology and tools can enable your business to draw on renewable sources for more of your energy needs. The top trends to watch for the coming year include better energy storage set-ups, smart microgrids, grid parity, and new options for integrating solar into offices. These could lead to greater affordability, reduced overheads, more efficient and effective use of energy, and higher profit margins for your business. In addition, you could enjoy a lower carbon footprint and improved green credentials as a brand.

Are you looking for renewable energy options for your business? Platinum Electricians has expertise in installing and maintaining solar systems for commercial, industrial, and other business sites, and we can give you advice on government rebates and incentives. Contact our friendly team today for more information on how we can help you with transitioning to a renewable energy system.