Thursday, April 11, 2024

What will energy management look like in 2030?

The way we’re using electricity is changing. Decarbonisation of heat and power and an increase in electricity consumption means greater dependence on intermittent renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

These changes mean we need to work differently to balance electricity supply with demand. As a result, we’re shifting from a centralised energy system to a decentralised or distributed energy system – where energy is generated by lots of different operations all around the country, away from the main grid.

We all have a role to play in this change process. The way your organisation manages its electricity today might look very different in 10 years’ time.

Why should I change the way I use and manage energy? 

Shifting how we use our energy will result in a host of benefits for your business and the UK:

  • Support system stability: by reducing your consumption at times of high demand, you’ll be helping to keep the UK electricity demand in line with supply, preventing blackouts.
  • Cost avoidance and revenue generation: having self-generation or battery storage means you can rely on your own resources when costs peak. Plus, when it’s in demand, you can deliver power back to the grid, which can make you money.
  • Reach net zero targets: by reducing your consumption or getting your own renewable generators, you’ll reduce the need to call on fossil fuel power generation at peak times, and ease peaks and troughs in energy demand.
  • Future proof your business: build resilience by not having full reliance on the grid for your power.

The energy management system of the Future

Energy management is changing. Knowing what we know now, and the future demands on the energy system, this is what your business energy use could look like in less than a decade.

It starts with the supply 

Let’s start at the beginning: energy supply. Hopefully you’re already supplied with 100% renewable electricity, but with the average fuel mix across all UK suppliers sitting at just 38%, it’s worth checking. At Drax, our product offering has been approved by EcoAct, an international consultancy that independently reviews our product offering, verifying our renewable electricity supply.

Your 100% renewable electricity doesn’t necessarily have to come from a generic unknown source. A Corporate Power Purchase Agreement (CPPA) is a way to connect the power your organisation consumes to a specific renewable power generator. Not only do CPPAs help you manage power price risk over longer terms, but they can improve your environmental credentials, building brand value too.

We’ll be well beyond the smart meter deadline come 2030, and all eligible organisations should have had them installed. In fact, smart meters will enable a smarter, decentralised energy grid. The more detailed usage data they provide helps the grid to predict peaks and troughs in demand, and therefore match available supply more effectively to demand.

Self-generation

Another important element of future energy management is self-generation. Not only does renewable generation provide clean energy for your organisation, but with a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), it provides an extra source of income by selling any excess power back to the grid. At Drax, we’ve partnered with over 2,100 renewable energy generators, buying 1.3 TWh of their excess electricity and in turn supplying it to UK businesses.

Optimisation and electrification 

Onsite battery storage is an increasingly viable method of storing energy at scale, and advances in technology are making them more economical for businesses. With battery storage you’ll be able to store excess renewable energy you’ve generated. You can then discharge this electricity when needed, without having to call on the grid or fossil fuel sources.

As well as batteries, it’s likely you have other electric assets – machinery or energy intensive operations like refrigerators, engines or lighting – that could be optimised. With energy optimisation and flexibility, you’ll be able to lower your energy consumption at peak (more expensive) times. This might involve shifting some processes to run at night when energy is cheaper, shifting a tea break or turning off machines for an hour.

2030 will be a big year for vehicles, when the ban on selling/purchasing new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles will be active. If your organisation operates a fleet of vehicles, some, if not all, should have made the switch to electric vehicles (EVs). With an electrified fleet, you’ll be benefitting from zero tailpipe emissions as well as lower TCOs (total cost of ownership).

Whether you own a fleet or not, by 2030 we can expect charging stations to be commonplace in all car parks. It’s worthwhile planning ahead and installing charging infrastructure on site for colleagues, customers and fleet vehicles. If you choose all of these measures, you’ll be able to use renewable, self-generated electricity – stored in your batteries – to charge when prices peak. And, with vehicle to grid (V2G) technology developing all the time, it’s likely you’ll be able to use vehicles as an electric asset by 2030, too.

Behind your energy management: your carbon footprint 

Behind your physical energy management system, carbon reporting will be playing an important role in meeting environmental targets. With 100% renewable energy supply and renewable energy certificates (RECs) you’ll be able to report your Scope 2 carbon emissions as zero. And with fleet electrification and energy optimisation, you’ll have cut your Scope 1 emissions, too.

Right now, in 2023, carbon offsetting certificates will help you to offset the harder to abate emissions, most typically found in Scope 3. But by 2030, carbon removal schemes will be operational. BECCS – bioenergy with carbon capture use and storage – will allow Drax to achieve its ambition to be a negative carbon company by 2030, and help other businesses with their ambitions, too.

www.drax.com

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