When it comes to decarbonizing industries, using renewable energy is quickly becoming a given. With the growing popularity of wind, solar and biomass energy, as well as hydroelectricity, and the gradual withdrawal from fossil fuels (natural gas, coal, diesel, etc.), a new energy ecosystem is developing, leading to abundant market opportunities.
Energy storage technologies, such as batteries or pumped storage hydropower plants, are making this transition easier by stabilizing power systems and reducing the constraints of renewable energy intermittency.
But the road to integrating more renewables into your operations can be bumpy. They must be reliable, cost-effective and environmentally responsible. This means looking at all the attributes that existing assets have to offer and making sure the project incorporates its physical and economic settings.
So how do you optimize the process to integrate renewable energy?
Francois Vitez, Vice-President, Power and Renewable Markets says, “First, you need to answer two questions:
- What are the power system and user needs?
- What energy resources are available?
Power system needs become a source of revenue for developers of renewable energy projects. Market rules are evolving to encourage the flexibility that’s increasingly required to support intermittent energy sources like wind and solar. A thorough understanding of this market, which is constantly changing, is essential to developing a business plan that will justify the required investments and project viability.”
After shareholders have approved the project, it needs to go through the various stages of permits, environmental assessments and funding applications. Only then can you start implementing the project, which can take several years.
Although the process is long, the environmental and economic benefits are substantial. For off-grid industrial companies, like many mines in Canada, the revenue streams that come from switching to renewable energy are primarily driven by three sources:
- A reduction in fossil fuel consumption and related costs (avoided costs)
- Improved ESG and therefore higher share values
- The leveraging of CO2 emission reductions through various carbon market mechanisms and the growing number of tax incentives
Our societies have all the technical and financial solutions to ensure a transition to a hydrocarbon-free economy. The latest IPCC report has stressed the urgency of taking ambitious measures to counter global warming. For industrial players, these include using a renewable energy mix.