Helping businesses to take control of their energy
Jorge Pikunic, MD of Distributed Energy & Power, talks about the future of energy for businesses.
Late last month Bill Gates published his annual letter, highlighting the extraordinary role that energy plays in modern day life. Ask Gates about energy and he will tell you that every time we switch on a light or turn a dial to make your home or workplace warmer (or cooler), you will be using a superpower. Access to energy.
For the last 150 years, energy supply in the western world has predominantly come from big, centralised sources. Power stations fuelled by coal, gas and nuclear and more recently, renewable energy such as wind-farms.
But the global energy market is going through a period of transformation as we balance the need to keep the lights on with bringing down carbon emissions and keeping energy as affordable as possible.
As Gates puts it: “to stop climate change and make energy affordable for everyone, we’re going to need some new inventions.
“Why? Solar and wind power are reliable energy sources so long as the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. But people still need dependable energy on cloudy days, at night time, and when the air is still. That means power companies often back up these renewable sources with fossil fuels like coal or natural gas, which emit greenhouse gases.”
As a business, Centrica has invested heavily in both renewables and natural gas. We’ve been a major supporter of renewables, investing over £1bn into developing and running a world-class fleet of wind farms in the UK, while helping customers on both sides of the Atlantic to harness the power of the sun. We’ve also been a major operator of gas-fired power stations, both large and small.
More wind farms and solar panels is undoubtedly a good thing for the environment, but it’s putting more pressure on our power networks and that inevitably means more pressure on our pockets. And renewables don’t necessarily spell the end for gas. In truth, gas continues to be critical as we need to back up those assets, as Gates suggests.
But the economics of building large scale plants that may only rarely run don’t stack up. We see a new world emerging of Distributed Energy - a shift of focus away from large, centralised power generation to a more local, decentralised approach to energy.
Energy generated where we need it. Battery facilities that allow us to take surplus power off the system and save it for a cloudy, windless day. And smart energy management that means we use our valuable energy more efficiently, and at the best possible time.
Centrica is building a new global business that brings all these elements together so we can help large energy users like businesses and hospitals to take control over the energy they use. They will have control over their energy demand, how much and when they use it, where and when they generate their own power and how they can use the grid as a way of generating income.
Sound too much like hard work? We’ll be their partners, designing the best solutions, installing it, running it and ensuring it’s working at its very best, while allowing the customer to stick to the job of running their business.
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