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07.14.2021

Distributed Energy Resources: Benefits and Challenges

Steve Nieland | Distributed Energy Resources/Microgrids

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distributed energy DER benefits and concerns

In an earlier blog post, I wrote about how Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) are providing efficient and effective solutions to the growing problem of energy insecurity. DERs have many benefits, but there are also a few challenges that need to be considered during the planning process for any energy system.

When it comes to critical infrastructure, the most important benefit of DERs is maintaining resiliency within the system. You’ve got to keep the lights on 24/7/365. Creating that resiliency has a ripple effect, including:

  • Improving safety
  • Reducing downtime and minimizing productivity losses
  • Lowering energy costs by generating some of your own energy
  • Minimizing peak demand charges
  • Reducing your carbon footprint by utilizing more sustainable energy sources

In order to reap the benefits of DERs, it’s important to manage the challenges associated with generating your own power. Two potential obstacles to incorporating DERs into your organization’s energy plan may be concerns with energy storage, as well as return on investment of system costs. Fortunately, technological advances over the last few years have created excellent solutions for those common objections.

At EnTech Solutions, we start by assessing your energy needs to understand your usage patterns. Based on this, we can recommend a solution and test it with our simulation software, showing you how different options accomplish different things. Often a combination of DERs, such as wind and solar, work well together to meet all your energy requirements. In addition, we can add on a battery option to store power for use at a later time.

EnTech Solutions has also made DERs more affordable in a variety of ways:

  • Modular components. We have developed pieces that can be combined and configured in a variety of ways to create a customized “standard solution.” This reduces costs by simplifying the engineering and design process, as well as streamlining manufacturing and installation.
  • An end-to-end solution. Rather than piecing together a solution using multiple vendors, EnTech Solutions can complete your entire DER project in house, from initial assessment, to engineering, to manufacturing components, through installation, maintenance and optimization. That means you know the price of your entire project from the start.
  • Return on investment. Generating your own energy reduces utility costs, and it may even be possible to sell excess energy back to your utility grid to offset the cost of your initial investment.

Outlook for the Future of DERs

Distributed Energy Resources will continue to expand into the traditional energy grid space. Demand for energy will only grow, with electricity demand increasing twice as fast as overall energy. This electric demand is expected to increase 50% over current levels by 2040.

Investing in DER infrastructure now can provide immediate results and deliver critical solutions as your energy needs grow down the road.