For many years, large companies have ruled the roost in the energy industry. High costs have made it difficult for small “mum and pop” businesses to get a foot in the door. Most small businesses have had no choice but to sit back as passive consumers of energy.
Enter the Energy Prosumer …
Energy Producers are in the business of selling as many units of energy as possible. Traditionally this has been a small group of large companies.
Energy Consumers buy energy. Energy is a necessary (but sometimes expensive) input for running their business. Sound familiar? It’s most of us.
Energy Prosumer is a business that both produces and consumes energy. A smart energy prosumer will actively cut their energy consumption while using renewable energy to offset their utility bills or generate new income.
What Does This Mean for Your business?
Thinking of getting engaged in clean energy? Here’s some ideas that might help you see what it might look like for you:
The possibilities are as broad as your entrepreneurial ingenuity will allow.
Finding Your Niche as a Small Business
In a previous post, we talked about the business opportunity in the clean energy industry.
So what should small and independent businesses consider as they seek to join the Energy Revolution?
Economies of Scale: This tends to work against smaller businesses because many forms of renewable energy are cheaper to deploy at larger scale. This eliminates some opportunities for small businesses, such as grid-connected wind generation which is double the cost at small (<5 MW) scale. On the other hand, energy conservation projects work well at almost any scale, and electric vehicles are cost competitive for businesses that use them regularly.
Energy Transport Cost: Producing energy on site can eliminate the transport and handling costs involved in getting energy to your door. Often these "middle man" costs are more than the cost of the energy itself. For grid connected businesses, look at your utility’s net metering policies. For off-grid businesses, the cost to import fuel can be huge. Hybrid renewable energy systems (with battery storage) may minimise your fuel consumption.
Passive Opportunities: You don’t necessarily need to do all the work. If you had a successful quarter and are looking to invest for the long-term, you could consider a clean energy co-operative. If you are a landowner and are looking to diversify your revenue, you could look at leasing part of your land to a wind or solar farm. Or, you could simply switch to a green energy retailer to minimise your direct environmental footprint.
Think about your total energy picture – how you use it, and where it comes from. Small businesses shouldn't consider themselves as just passive consumers anymore.
Why not produce your your own clean energy and become an energy prosumer?