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06.24.2021

Keeping the Lights on for Critical Services

Steve Nieland | Distributed Energy Resources/Microgrids

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powering hospitals and critical services with distributed energy

DISTRIBUTED ENERGY RESOURCES TO THE RESCUE

When someone you care about is on the operating table, losing power for the machines that keep them alive and manage their pain is simply not an option.

In truth, nobody wants to lose power. A brownout or blackout can cause significant losses for any business, especially when dealing with raw materials that could spoil or degrade. But organizations that provide critical functions and infrastructure experience a whole new level of risk when faced with energy insecurity.

Hospitals, police and fire departments, and other services that keep us all safe and healthy require both energy reliability and resiliency with no room for error.

Distributed Energy Resources, also known as DERs, provide an efficient and effective solution.

DER Options and Opportunities

Most energy comes from a central source transmitted to customers connected to a regional energy grid. The further you go from the central source, the greater the loss in efficiency. Furthermore, one central source of energy opens the grid up to a greater risk of temporary lapses in power, particularly for those at the outer edges of the grid.

Distributed Energy Resources can be equipment or systems that are able to generate energy on a local level. They can take many different forms, including:

  • Solar energy, standalone or paired with a battery storage system
  • Wind turbines
  • Hydro power
  • Geothermal options
  • Conventional engine driven generators (which can be configured to burn biogas)
  • Microturbines
  • Fuel cells
  • Flywheels

DERs provide alternate power sources to create redundancies and resiliency within the regional energy grid that reduce the risk of power outages for critical systems and services – or even your individual business.

In other words, your hospital won’t experience a “blip” during your surgery. The local fire station will receive the alert to respond to your factory fire. Your food processing plant won’t have to shut down, dump spoiled ingredients, flush the system and send workers home for a production stoppage.

When the central power source goes down, your local DER, set up with area conditions and environment in mind, takes over.

What does that look like in real life? Two years ago, a large storm caused power outages for four to five days across Northeast Wisconsin. One of the cities within that power grid, Kaukauna, had invested in the infrastructure to generate hydroelectric power decades ago. Thanks to their local hydro DER, no business, residence, school, or critical service provider experienced an interruption in energy at any point during the grid failure.

The lesson? Investing in DER infrastructure now can provide immediate results and deliver critical solutions as your needs grow down the road. Connect with our energy experts to learn more about distributed energy and how you can take control of your energy.