Renewable energy has long been a topic of discussion when it comes to climate change, costs of fossil fuels and society’s ability to adapt. Often lost in that shuffle is how renewable energy can change the way manufacturing plants conduct day-to-day business. Tesla’s Gigafactory, for example, utilizes geothermal, solar and wind energy to produce its own energy and operate as a closed, self-sufficient system. Not every company can run a 100% renewable business, but strides can be made in certain areas. Aside from reducing carbon footprint by investing in renewable energy, companies can see benefits in a number of ways.
- More stable costs as opposed to fluctuating fossil fuel costs
- Leads to less dependence on third parties dictating energy budgets
- Boosts of available energy during peak consumption
- Capturing by-product heat energy and storing it for powering HVAC systems and other lower impact systems
- Minimal maintenance of renewable energy equipment since many setups include few or no moving parts
- Possible local or state subsidies or tax breaks for investing in renewable energy
- Happier, healthier workforce
Renewable energy isn’t without its drawbacks, however. For example, plants located in historically cloudy areas won’t be able to gather as much solar power as one located in the deserts of Nevada. High upfront costs can be a deterrent as well, which requires business owners to have a long term view of their investment in renewable energy.
Complete, widespread energy independence for factories isn’t right around the corner for most manufacturers. Tesla’s example is backed by billions of available investment dollars and access to cutting edge technology, but small impacts can be made to cut energy costs and reduce a plant’s carbon footprint. Small investments in reducing energy waste, repurposing by-product energy and treating renewable energy as a reinforcing source for fossil fuel-powered systems are just a few of the ways small manufacturing firms can make an impact and benefit their business. Is your facility considering investing in renewable energy? Share your story with us in the comments below!
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