Let’s start with the facts.
According to Buildings magazine, thunderstorms, hurricanes and blizzards were responsible for 679 widespread electrical outages in the last decade, 87% of which affected 50,000 or more customers.
It was also reported in Buildings magazine that seven of the ten costliest weather disasters in American history occurred in the last decade.
General Electric reported in The Rise of Distributed Power that there were 905 natural disasters including earthquakes, droughts, floods, tornados and severe storms that affected nearly 106 million people and caused economic losses estimated of $160 million in 2012 alone.
What does all this mean?
Making your power system resilient is no longer a suggestion, it has become a requirement.
What is at risk?
How much would you lose if your facility lost power, transportation, communications and other critical systems for weeks?
That thought alone should help frame the importance of having reliable power in your facility. Consider the magnitude of human suffering and economic costs one major power outage could exert on your region and your business.
Simply put: The question is not if natural disasters will occur, but when they occur. The following power generation solutions can help you prepare for these unfortunate events.
Solution #1: Distributed Generation
As a result of grid reliability and changing economics, a new type of market has started to emerge – Distributed Generation, also colloquially referred to as DG. Traditionally, DG is defined as electricity generated at or near the point of use, on or off the grid.
Since distributed power systems bypass the conventional transmission infrastructure by locating the generating assets next to load centers, they can provide fast recovery or even uninterrupted service during grid events. Additionally, the distributed generation equipment available today carries ultra-high efficiencies. These assets are regularly deployed as peaking assets so that, when the power rates are high during peak usage periods, the local users do not pay for those peaks in their monthly utility costs.
Solution #2: Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
Along with being able to generate electricity in isolation, distributed power systems can also produce useable thermal energy. Known as combined heat and power, CHP is the simultaneous generation of electricity and heat energy from a single fuel source. It is typically 30% more efficient than using grid-purchased electricity and an on-site boiler.
According to A Guide for Using Combined Heat and Power for Enhancing Reliability and Resiliency in Buildings, a report from the EPA, HUD, and DOE, “CHP systems allow facilities to remain functional in the event of a disaster and for non-critical loads to resume functionality as quickly as possible. For example, CHP systems with black start capability and other technical requirements can ensure seamless operation during a grid outage.”
You have already completed step one, which is making yourself aware of the issue. Now that you are aware, you can start taking a deeper dive into these solutions. We highly recommend you read the U.S. Department of Energy Combined Heat and Power paper and our energy partner, General Electric’s The Rise of Distributed Power paper.
If you would like to discuss your specific facility issues or strategies to secure operations during grid outages, please feel free to contact us with your questions.