The rising cost of electricity has many people worried these days. For large companies, the sticker shock should prompt business leaders to ask the question, “What are the alternatives?”

The falling prices of renewable energy technologies have made electricity self-sufficiency more affordable than ever before. For corporate electricity users, this prompts an interesting dilemma: having to decide between relying on a legacy grid system or investing in an alternative microgrid system.

Despite years of climate change warnings, companies are just now tuning into the changing energy world. That’s why dilemmas like this should act as crucial decision-making moments: leaders can either adopt an innovation mindset or risk being left behind by the competition.

The reality is that while embracing corporate sustainability does come with a feel-good green message, it makes long-term economic sense above all else.

At the MaRS Verge corporate innovation conference on November 15, we’ll explore how corporations can uncover energy innovation opportunities to improve their bottom line. Some of the key questions we will examine include:

  • What advantages can the clean technology (cleantech) community offer to corporations?
  • What is preventing your organization from taking action on climate change?
  • How is government climate policy affecting business decisions in Canada?

In a recent MaRS study undertaken in partnership with Navigant Consulting, we examined how commercial facilities can reduce their energy costs and monetize the grid benefits of distributed energy resources such as solar panels or batteries.

There are several streams of value that corporate energy consumers can monetize in Ontario, including the flexibility of moving energy consumption off peak, using energy storage and providing an operating reserve for the Independent Electricity System Operator.

Likewise, commercial or industrial customers with over $700,000 of interruption costs per year (such as manufacturing facilities, data centres or industrial processors) could demonstrate a positive business case without any subsidy or incentives.

In our study, we examined the energy needs of both a large manufacturing facility (a 6MW Peak Class A industrial customer) with a 5MW/10MWh lithium ion battery and microgrid control system and a large corporate or university campus with a 1.5MW solar photovoltaic installation and the same battery system.

In both cases, the facilities’ large batteries allow them to operate critical systems during a network outage, providing insurance against extreme weather events and cyber-attacks. The facilities also use their energy storage systems to reduce electricity bills by avoiding Global Adjustment charges, which are projected to exceed $560,000 per megawatt in 2016.

And as of September 2016, facilities as small as 1MW can now benefit from the province’s Industrial Conservation Initiative, as well as from reducing Global Adjustment charges.

As technology costs continue to fall, the economics become more compelling for commercial facilities and large corporate campuses, with a net benefit of over $300,000 per year in 2025, increasing to $500,000 per year by 2035.

This is just one example of the strong business case for adopting energy innovation in your company.

During our Energy & Environment breakout session at MaRS Verge, we’ll be welcoming thought leaders from across the corporate, cleantech and government sectors to discuss energy challenges faced by Canadian executives.


Interested in learning more about corporate innovation?

MaRS Verge: Making Innovation Work is a curated gathering of corporate innovation directors and managers who are ready to challenge the way they think. Join us on November 15 for MaRS Verge and gain an updated set of skills, new innovation contacts and a different way of thinking.

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Aaron Barter

Aaron led the Community Energy Program at the Advanced Energy Centre, which examines systemic barriers to deployment of innovative technologies within local energy systems, and convenes industry to accelerate the deployment of microgrid solutions in Canada. See more…