Building energy efficiency Using
Distributed & Renewable Energy Sources
To steal a quote from the famous playwright William Shakespeare, “To be (a power generator) or not to
be (a power generator) – that is the question.”
In my early career, I had some success with selling and installing advanced energy systems such as
industrial heat recovery heat pumps, condensing heat exchangers, thermal storage and geothermal heat
pumps. I also completed studies on low head hydro, biomass, co-generation and district heating
systems. Many good applications were found for these technologies and over the years there have been
many government and utility incentive programs for them. These systems can create significant energy
savings and reductions in greenhouse gas emission. However they are complex to design, build and
operate, as well, are very expensive.
In many cases, these systems provide an alternative energy source for the end user. In essence, the end
user becomes his own energy supplier or power generator. Before making the decision to move down
this path the end user has to decide what business am I in? If my company is an industrial, commercial
or institutional enterprise does it really want to become a power generator?
The US Department of Energy describes Distributed Energy Resources (DER) as energy generation and
storage systems placed at or near the point of use. If implemented properly, these systems can provide
the end user with greater reliability, adequate power quality, lower emissions and in combined heat and
power (CHP) applications, improved efficiency. Beyond the direct benefits, DER can allow the end user
to participate in competitive electric power markets. From a utility infrastructure perspective, DER has
the potential to mitigate transmission congestion, control price fluctuations, strengthen security, and
provide greater stability to the grid. This is why many utilities and governments support these projects
as a means of resolving larger system problems.
Distributed energy en