Our most successful clients are those that keep an open mind. They frequently receive pleasant surprises. But we also pride ourselves on steering clients away from projects that won't work. If a project simply isn't going to meet a client's goals, there is no benefit in sugar-coating the news.
Unforeseen events like the COVID-19 pandemic can disrupt the best made plans for businesses small and large alike. While few could have prepared for the upheaval that has taken place, many businesses are no doubt even more highly tuned to the need for careful planning than ever before.
In the spirit of good business planning, we are taking this opportunity to highlight how we help our clients identify and plan for successful energy projects. Even the most knowledgeable business owner can’t be fully abreast of the latest developments, challenges and opportunities. That’s why Energy Revolution Services spends so much time with clients at the early stage of a project, helping to understand their goals and identify where they should focus their efforts.
We have successfully led numerous small to medium businesses through the discovery and planning phase of their clean energy journey, with just two of many highlighted in this article.
A Closer Look Reveals Hidden Treasures
It’s useful to look at similar projects to see how well a specific opportunity might perform. But often it’s worth diving a little deeper, as we can uncover some pleasant surprises.
One of our recent clients is a large hotel with five separate kitchens. Their kitchen ventilation systems were set to operate continuously whenever the kitchen is occupied. This uses a lot of energy compared to a newer “demand-controlled” ventilation system that can reduce speed when ventilation isn’t needed.
We know a typical demand-controlled kitchen ventilation system can reduce ventilation fan energy consumption by up to 50-60%.
But we encouraged them to spend a little more time investigating up front.
During our energy assessment of the building (energy audit), we installed sensors in each kitchen exhaust capture hood to assess their usage.
Of their five kitchens, one really stood out. This kitchen typically serves as an ‘overflow’ and is particularly busy during conferences. But in a typical week, the system only needs to operate at a fraction of its maximum output.
The upgraded ventilation system could save our client up to 80% of the energy used by the ventilation fan. As a bonus, they could also save over 50% of the energy used to heat the kitchen since they will need to bring in less fresh air.
The upgrade of this kitchen could bring our client a return on investment over 15%.
By completing a detailed assessment, the Energy Revolution team demonstrated an additional 45% in annual cost savings, easily justifying the additional effort we spent.
There are as many clean energy opportunities as there are businesses. Every option should be considered, and no stone left unturned."
To Hydro Or Not To Hydro? That Is The Question That Saved Our Client's Investment
Keeping an open mind is important. And you need to know when to abandon an opportunity if it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Better to have spent the effort and walked away than to have spent your money on a project that doesn’t bring you a return.
An Alberta client of ours contacted us to look at the potential for building a small hydropower facility on their land. At the start of any project, we like to complete a desktop assessment which can help our client know whether they have opportunities worth pursuing. We looked at topographic and river flow data for our client’s site to develop a series of potential hydropower project configurations.
We saved our client a lot of cost and heartache simply by recommending they abandon the project.
The estimated cost far exceeded the cost that the electricity market could bear, so they never would have seen a return. We were able to determine this after an initial review which showed few viable options.
Hydropower projects can bring a good return on investment if you can find a good site with steady annual river flows and the right electricity market. Unfortunately, our client’s site didn’t meet all those conditions.
But all was not lost…
To find out what happened next, stay tuned for Part 2 of this article.
Over To You
There are as many clean energy opportunities as there are businesses. Every option should be considered on its merits and no stone should be left unturned.