The modern business environment is now more complex than ever. Business expenses keep rising and companies are constantly searching for long-term solutions that can help them stay afloat. This is exactly why many companies are deciding to ditch traditional energy sources and switch to renewable ones.
According to the 2017 World Energy Outlook, as the costs of these sources are now lower than ever, renewable energy is predicted to reach 40 percent of the global power generation by 2040. And, their benefits for your business are multiple.
First, they are a long-term investment in healthier workplaces.
Second, you’re raising people’s environmental awareness and sending an incredibly strong message. You’re proving that you’re a brand with a mission, committed to making this world cleaner and safer.
Most importantly, this is a smart investment that can minimize your energy costs in the long-run.
A myriad of famous corporations such as Google, Intel, IKEA, Kohl’s, Apple, and Walmart have seen the potential of renewable energy sources and decided to invest in them. Of course, to make this plan work for your business, too, you first need to familiarize yourself with different types of renewable energy sources and choose the one your business may benefit from.
Here is what you need to know:
Like it’s name says, wind energy uses the power of the wind to make the blades of wind turbines spin. Then, their rotation is turned to electrical power with the help of the electrical generator. The best thing about wind power is that it’s a renewable source of energy, meaning that you can never run out of it. Most importantly, as it doesn’t leave any dangerous by-products, the process of turning the wind into energy doesn’t pollute the environment.
This is exactly why wind power is becoming one of the most prominent renewable energy sources. In 2017, wind farms were the source of about 6 percent of the total electricity used in the U.S. Furthermore, World Energy Outlook emphasizes that, due to its steady growth both onshore and offshore, wind power will become the leading source of energy by 2030.
To use the wind power for your business, you need to invest in a small wind system and its size depends on your needs. Namely, you should ask your turbine manufacturer to provide you with a power curve that shows how much electricity is produced at a certain speed. You can use this information to calculate how much energy the turbine would create on a monthly or annual basis at the average speed and compare this figure with your demands right now.
Of course, before you invest your money, you need to make sure whether your wind power is consistent. For example, if the wind speed decreases, the turbine won’t work fast enough and less energy will be generated. This may seriously hurt your business operations. So, if your wind speed isn’t consistent, then this form of investment doesn’t make any sense.
Solar power is undoubtedly one of the most popular renewable energy sources. As such, it has become more powerful and more affordable to both individuals and businesses. For example, Science Alert emphasizes that, today, solar energy costs the same as coal in India (about 6 cents per kilowatt-hour). And, it’s estimated that, if the price of solar energy keeps plummeting, it will be even cheaper than coal by 2020.
The way solar energy works is pretty simple- sun rays are trapped in solar cells, where they are converted into electricity. You can use this energy for a wide range of purposes, but to convert it into an energy source, you need to invest in solar thermal panels. There are numerous benefits of solar power systems. They require no maintenance, as there are no complicated mechanical parts that can break down, andy don’t produce any annoying sounds that may disturb your employees. They are also a long-term investment that pays off. Even though the initial costs are quite high ($7-$9 per watt produced), don’t forget that you will get unlimited energy and that you won’t have to pay for any additional maintenance services.
EnergySage claims that, by going solar, commercial property owners can minimize the overall energy costs by 75 percent. The only problem with these systems is their dependency on sunlight. So, during the cloudy days, you may lose a notable output.
This is definitely one of the oldest natural energy sources and it has remained a powerful and affordable way to generate electricity. Namely, National Geographic claims that hydropower is the source of about 20 percent of today’s electricity globally.
This is a perfect energy source for any environmentally-conscious business. Once the system is set up, the water will be recycled back to nature and regained by rain and snow. This makes hydropower a completely free and unlimited energy source. Also, similarly to solar and wind energy, hydropower doesn’t leave any waste by-products, resulting in the generation of perfectly clean energy.
Unsurprisingly, the major disadvantage of this system is high initial costs, but it’s still much cheaper than the costs of installing wind or solar power systems. Building a large-scale hydropower system of above 50MW may cost you between $1000 and $5000 per kilowatt.
Bioenergy is considered one of the most affordable and yet extremely powerful energy sources. Because of this, it has gained an immense increase in popularity in the past few years.
This is a renewable, carbon-neutral energy source that comes in numerous forms, most famous of which are wood chip and wood pellet. This is also one of the most versatile natural energy sources, believed to minimize our dependence on fossil fuel in the future. In fact, biofuels are expected to make up more than 27 percent of the world’s transportation by 2050.
And, your business can benefit from it on multiple levels. When used as a heating and energy source, biomass can help you cut the expenses by 50 percent. Moreover, in some countries, business owners are incentivized for using renewable energy sources. For example, in the UK, the government set The Renewable Heat Incentive (the RHI), where cash payments are given to those business owners that install renewable heat generation systems.
Like with any of the abovementioned energy sources, the major problem with using biomass as an energy source is the fact that it requires you to have a lot of space and make large initial investments. According to Biomass Magazine, the total cost of setting up a biomass plant is around $3,500-$4,400 per kilowatt production.
Geothermal systems use the heat produced by the earth’s core to generate power. The popularity of these technologies is on the rise. In 2013, geothermal resources created more than 11,000 MW of electricity on the global level and this number has grown significantly ever since. Some experts claim that, by 2019, geothermal energy will be cheaper than both coal and natural gas, costing approximately 5 cents per kilowatt/hour.
Apart from being an impressively sustainable and reliable source of energy, geothermal systems require almost no maintenance. A geothermal heat pump uses up to 50 percent less electricity than traditional heating or cooling technologies. Not to mention that these pumps can last for 20 years, helping you save $500 per year on maintenance.
And, as for the expenses, an average geothermal heating pump would cost you about $2,500 per ton. Most importantly, the payback for installing a geothermal heating system is between 2 and 10 years, while the lifetime of the system is about 20 years. In other words, it definitely pays off.
Make Environmental Consciousness a Part of your Corporate Culture
Turning to natural energy sources is a great way to raise environmental awareness, establish a healthier environment for your employees, and give back to your community. Above all, even if the initial investments in these systems are massive, they pay for themselves.
Still, if making these investments is still too much for your small business, you can take some simpler and more affordable steps that may make green thinking a part of your corporate culture:
- Give out promotional items that are recyclable.
- Organize a green up day for your team once a year. Get them to clean parks or plant trees.
- Encourage your employees to walk or go by bus instead of driving to work.
- Save energy.
- Don’t use plastic bottles.
- Use eco-friendly lighting options.
- Recycle and reuse regularly.
- Use green cleaning products.
- Switch from printing documents to storing them on the cloud.
- Write about your mission and inform your target audience about your further initiatives.
So, what energy sources would work for your business? Tell us more about the green activities you’re doing right now or planning to implement in the future!
Emma Worden is a business manager from Sydney. She enjoys reading and writing on business topics, and giving advice and tips through her articles. If you want to read more of her work, you can find it at: https://bizzmarkblog.com