Sustainable Energy and the Road Ahead
Jason Ackermann, CPPM
With the changes that are taking place in Washington and the selection of Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy, many of the subsidies for renewable projects could very well be scaled back, if not phased out completely. As a country, we have spent the better part of two decades weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. Renewable energy was an industry in its babyhood with almost unlimited potential and most renewable energy projects were easy to sell with a major portion being funded by large government grants and subsidies. Now that the era of incentivization is coming to its conclusion, will the Sustainable Energy sector be sustainable?
Or, is this the end of renewable energy projects?
Riding with the Big Boys
In all new sectors of business, there comes a time when the government subsidy training wheels must come off. This is the test of any good industry. Can Sustainable Energy become the “big-boy-bike-riding” industry that it has been touted to be for the past 20 years?
The answer is absolutely.
Now more than ever before, those that want to see sustainable practices and increased use of renewable energy sources need to change how we communicate the beneficial impact of energy projects. It is no longer enough to tout the environmental impact of these projects. Times have changed and the conversations around energy projects must also change in order to still be relevant today.
Bumps & Scrapes
I know it may be hard to believe, but not every company or the executives that run them, give a second thought about the environment. This doesn’t make them bad companies or executives. To some, the capital outlays need to bring a return, because their role within the company is to steward the limited resources that they have, to bring the biggest ROI. With the potential of losing some or all government incentives, we need to better understand how to communicate to those that lead the financial realm of our companies. If you’re not a numbers guy, there is a great tool, provided by Xcel Energy here, to assist you in making your case.
The benefits of renewable energy are proven to save money for many companies as well as provide an additional connection point with energy conscience consumers. Technological advances are also continuing to improve upon the efficiency of captured energy (i.e., solar panels designed by Elon Musk’s company, Tesla), which add considerable promise for the future of many forward-thinking companies looking to shave expenses.
Beyond a simple cash on cash return there are many other factors within energy projects that need to be quantified in order to compete head to head with other projects. Studies have shown that energy projects not only can save on operating costs, but may lead to increased productivity and overall employee health creating a much greater impact to the bottom line than just the easily quantifiable monetary gain.
As the industry grows from adolescence to adulthood it will prove time and again, that for the money, Renewable Energy Projects not only pay, but create the greatest value for the organization. Looking forward, it is a very exciting time to be involved in the renewable energy sector, watching it take its first few wobbly trips down the block. It’ll soon enough be yelling, “Look Ma, no hands!”