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Four Factors to a Successful Renewable Energy Installation

Insights Blog - Renewable Energy - Gannett Fleming.
Author: Tony Zamberlan, PE, Gannett Fleming vice president - Power Services

Renewable energy solutions are on the rise as institutional and industrial business seek to reduce their carbon/greenhouse gas emissions—especially as new environmental regulations mount. While renewables count primarily on the sun, wind, and water, all forms of renewable energy need time in-place to gather the data needed to determine if the energy source is both scale-able, practical, and cost beneficial.

Long before it’s time to sync your renewable energy project to the grid, consider these four factors.

1. Economic Model of Your System

Renewable energy sources can require large capital investments. Having a comprehensive understanding of the economic benefits associated with renewable energy will help you determine if the switch makes financial sense. Techniques using linear optimization models can accurately predict the least cost of energy for your energy usage requirements. Consult the experts to analyze your historical energy usage. They can help you determine if an investment in renewable energy will provide the desired financial and carbon emissions incentives for your business.


2. Location and Infrastructure Needs

The infrastructure needed to move renewable energy from where it’s generated (and stored) to where it’s consumed involves design and equipment specifications for your site. Physical constraints, such as slopes, vegetation, soil conditions, infrastructure, access, and associated resource impacts must be considered in the context of site planning, highest and best use, and conflicting or competitive (legal) uses for the land that may relate to the mission of the facility itself.

3. Rebates & PPAs

To encourage the continued expansion of renewable energy, income tax credits, rebates, and savings programs are available from state and federal agencies, as well as from local energy providers. For large-scale projects, companies may choose to enter into a power purchase agreement (PPA). A PPA is a financial agreement where a developer arranges for the design, permitting, financing, and installation of a renewable energy system at little to no upfront cost to the owner. The developer then sells the generated power at a predetermined, sometimes fixed rate.

4. NERC CIP Planning

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) is responsible for assuring the effective and efficient reduction of risks to the nation’s power grid. NERC’s Critical Infrastructure Plan (CIP) consists of 9 standards and 45 requirements covering the security of electronic perimeters and the protection of critical cyber assets, as well as personnel and training, security management and disaster recovery planning. Integrating cybersecurity protections that align with NERC CIP requirements is key to delivering safe, reliable power.

Comprehensive Plan

Assembling a qualified team that addresses all business, technical, financial, legal, and operational aspects of a renewable energy project is essential. With proactive strategies in place, you can reduce vulnerabilities, mitigate risks, and maintain performance and reliability for power system operations. Contact me today to discuss your renewable energy project.

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