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Benefits of Onsite Electricity Generation in Alberta

At Alberta Energy Solutions, we understand the importance of optimizing energy usage and minimizing costs for businesses in Alberta. One effective strategy to achieve these goals is through onsite electricity generation. In this article, we will outline the numerous benefits of implementing onsite energy generation in Alberta, focusing on the advantages it brings to businesses and institutions. By adopting this approach, you can not only reduce expenses but also contribute to a greener and more resilient energy future.


Benefits:

1. Grid Rate Arbitrage: Onsite electricity generation enables businesses to take advantage of grid rate arbitrage. By generating electricity during low-demand periods and selling it back to the grid during high-demand periods, businesses can optimize their energy costs and maximize their savings.


2. Reduce Peak Demand Costs: Peak demand charges can account for a significant portion of a business's electricity costs, ranging from 40 to 50%. Onsite generation allows businesses to generate electricity during peak hours, reducing their reliance on the grid and lowering their peak demand charges.


3. Selling Back to the Grid: Under the Micro Generation Act rules, businesses with onsite generation can sell excess electricity back to the grid at pool rates. This provides an additional revenue stream and further reduces energy costs.


4. Managing Variable Grid Rates: Grid rates can vary depending on factors such as time of day, season, and market conditions. Onsite generation allows businesses to manage their electricity costs more effectively by generating power when grid rates are high and relying on the grid during periods of lower rates.


5. Participation in the Operating Reserves Market: Onsite generation enables businesses to participate in the Operating Reserves Market. By providing power to the grid during times of system stress or emergencies, businesses can earn additional revenue while supporting grid reliability.


6. Reduce GHG Emissions: Onsite generation using renewable energy technologies such as solar PV or with Combined Heat and Power can significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions helping businesses lower their carbon footprint and contribute to a cleaner environment.


7. Resilience in Grid Outages: Onsite generation provides businesses with a reliable source of power during grid outages or disruptions. By ensuring a continuous supply of electricity, businesses can minimize downtime, maintain critical operations, and avoid financial losses.


Technologies for Onsite Electricity Generation:

Solar PV: Solar photovoltaic systems harness sunlight to generate electricity. Although solar power is intermittent, it offers low operating costs and emits no GHGs, making it a sustainable and cost-effective option for onsite generation.


Combined Heat and Power (CHP): CHP systems produce both electricity and useful heat simultaneously. These systems operate as base load power sources and can be triggered to generate power when grid rates are high, providing businesses with additional cost savings.


Backup Generators: Backup generators are a reliable and affordable option for onsite electricity generation. While they have the lowest cost per MWh to implement, they waste the heat generated and can increase GHG emissions.


Fuel Cells: Fuel cells generate electricity through an electrochemical process. Although fuel cells are still relatively expensive, advancements are being made. Sourcing and storing hydrogen for fuel cells can be challenging and costly. However, companies like Bloom Energy offer fuel cells that can utilize natural gas as a cleaner and more accessible fuel source.


Who Should Consider Implementing Onsite Generation:

Several types of facilities can benefit from implementing onsite energy generation:

Industrial Facilities: Manufacturing plants, refineries, and other industrial facilities with high energy demands can significantly reduce costs and emissions through onsite generation.

Institutional Facilities: Hospitals, universities, and government buildings can enhance their energy resilience and reduce expenses by adopting onsite generation solutions.

Commercial Facilities: Shopping malls, hotels, and office buildings can take advantage of onsite generation to optimize energy costs and improve their environmental footprint.

Facilities with High Transmission and Distribution Charges: Businesses facing high transmission and distribution charges can alleviate the financial burden by generating a portion of their electricity onsite.

Facilities with High Electricity Rates: Businesses paying electricity rates over $0.10/kWh can achieve substantial cost savings by implementing onsite generation, especially during peak demand periods.


Conclusion

In conclusion, onsite electricity generation in Alberta offers numerous benefits for businesses and institutions. From reducing costs through grid rate arbitrage and selling back to the grid to minimizing GHG emissions and ensuring energy resilience, the advantages are significant. By considering technologies such as solar PV, CHP systems, backup generators, or fuel cells, businesses can tailor their onsite generation solutions to their specific needs. Whether you operate an industrial facility, an institutional establishment, or a commercial enterprise, onsite energy generation can pave the way towards a more sustainable and cost-effective future.


Sources:

Government of Alberta. (2021). Micro-Generation Regulation. [Link: https://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/Regs/2008_052.pdf]

Bloom Energy. (n.d.). Technology. [Link: https://www.bloomenergy.com/technology/]

Canadian Solar Industries Association. (2021). Solar Energy in Canada. [Link: https://www.cansia.ca/solar-in-canada/solar-energy-in-canada/

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