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Future of Energy Q3 2023

Investing in sustainable energy: how to make sure it’s a long-term benefit

Aerial view of hydroelectric power station
Aerial view of hydroelectric power station
iStock / Getty Images Plus / Collab Media

Diana Vaz

Renewable Research Technologist, Irish Manufacturing Research

Sustainable energy solutions provide numerous benefits to companies. With a wide array of technologies available for adoption, it is crucial to identify the most suitable options for each industrial site.

Clean energy solutions aid companies in achieving decarbonisation targets, demonstrating a commitment to environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility, enhancing funding access, attracting responsible stakeholders and fostering positive public relations. Therefore, the benefits of embracing clean energy solutions extend well beyond the environmental sphere.  

Why we need sustainable energy solutions 

Industries’ huge dependence on energy providers constitutes a significant external risk. Energy markets are susceptible to several factors: global events that disrupt supply chains and infrastructures, economic conditions and geopolitical events are a few examples. These elements impact energy commodities’ prices and availability, ultimately influencing the price a company pays to operate. 

Investing in home-grown green energy and energy efficiency solutions begins by delivering immediate energy cost reductions. It also decreases energy dependence — protecting businesses from volatile energy prices, providing financial stability and supporting business growth and competitiveness. 

The benefits of embracing clean energy solutions
extend well beyond the environmental sphere.

Key technologies in EU strategy for net zero industry 

The Net-Zero Industry Act recently emerged as one of the pivotal initiatives in the EU’s energy regulatory landscape. Europe is a net importer of clean energy technologies. To ensure future resilient energy systems, the Act aims to boost the EU’s manufacturing of key clean energy technologies by simplifying regulations and fostering a favourable investment climate. 

The Act prioritises the following technologies, specifically targeting renewable energy production and energy efficiency: 

  • Solar 
  • Electrolysers and fuel cells (for green hydrogen production and storage) 
  • Wind 
  • Sustainable biogas/biomethane 
  • Energy storage 
  • Carbon capture and storage 
  • Heat pumps and geothermal 
  • Grid technologies 

How to find the most suitable solution 

Selecting the best solution(s) for an industrial site depends on understanding its unique settings: operation conditions, available resources and constraints. Thorough assessments are crucial before procuring energy solutions — to understand their technical and economic implications. 

There is a wide range of solutions available, which can be overwhelming for companies to assess without the in-house expertise or the budget for hiring consultants to go through them all. Budget and space constraints further restrict the decision-making process. To mitigate risks, companies often analyse only commonly used solutions, potentially missing opportunities. 

As an example of how to overcome this challenge, IMR conducted an EI-funded project, RES Feasibility Toolkit, which covers 11 technology groups. With high-level feasibility assessments, businesses can be pointed in the right direction and find the sustainable energy solution(s) that best aligns with their goals.   

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