The electrical power grid is under pressure as capacity continually increases, and cascading outages or systemic collapse are problems that are increasingly likely. The solution: distributed generation.
“By distributing smaller generating capacity at multiple locations, the pitfalls of relying on a single remote source of power are greatly reduced,” says Trevor de Vries, MD of 3W Power/AEG Power Solutions, South Africa.
“Distributed generation, also called on-site generation, dispersed generation, embedded generation, decentralised generation, decentralised energy or distributed energy, generates electricity from many small energy sources. Distributed generation allows the collection of energy from many sources and provides lower environmental impacts and improved security of supply.”
Historically, the economies of scale offered by central power plants began to fail in the late 1960s and, by the start of the 21st century, central plants could arguably no longer deliver competitively cheap and reliable electricity to more remote customers through the grid. While many avenues have been explored for providing safe and reliable power, the idea that alternative, independent energy producers could sell power back into the grid is a relatively recent concept.
Now, with the advent of cost-effective solar installations as complementary energy generation sources, the concept of distributed generation is becoming increasingly viable. “The right-sized resources, for individual customers, distribution substations, or microgrids, are able to offer important but little-known economic advantages. Distributed generation reduces the amount of energy lost in transmitting electricity because the electricity is generated right where it is used, and any excess can be fed back into the grid. This provides a financial benefit as well as an environmental benefit,” says de Vries.
Businesses use the bulk of our electricity supply, with air-conditioning, server rooms and computer systems alone constituting 60 percent of all power consumed. Not only is this a massive cost to business, but is not sustainable in the long term. The size of most commercial and industrial buildings makes them ideal for the installation of large scale industrial solar power plants, and by making use of the space available to them, these businesses can not only capture huge amounts of energy, but also sell that energy back into the main grid.
“Distributed generation, and especially renewable based technologies, will continue to gain in popularity due to technology advances, environmental benefits, political support and growing energy awareness. Utilities need to prepare themselves for this increased penetration of renewable energy through the investigation and application of smart grid solutions. By proactively embracing these changes, utilities can begin to shape the myriad of planning and operating approaches that maximise the potential long term benefits of large-scale solar installations to both the utility and its customers,” de Vries says.
About 3W Power/AEG Power Solutions:
3W Power S.A. (WKN A0Q5SX / ISIN GG00B39QCR01), based in Luxembourg, is the holding company of AEG Power Solutions Group. The Group is headquartered in Zwanenburg in the Netherlands. The shares of 3W Power are admitted to trading on Frankfurt Stock Exchange (ticker symbol: 3W9) and the warrants are traded on NYSE Euronext, Amsterdam (ticker symbol: 3WPW).
AEG Power Solutions Group is a global provider of power electronic systems and solutions for all industrial power supplies and offers one of the most comprehensive product and service portfolios in the area of power conversion and power controlling. The two complementary operating business units Renewable Energy Solutions (RES) and Energy Efficiency Solutions (EES) are serving customers worldwide. The RES product and service portfolio consists of systems and solutions for solar power plants like solar inverter, monitoring and control systems as well as power controller. The EES product and service portfolio includes high performance uninterruptable power supplies (USPs), industrial power controller and DC-converter.
Thanks to its distinctive expertise, bridging both AC and DC power technologies and spanning the worlds of both conventional and renewable energy, the company creates innovative solutions for smart grids.
AEG PS’ footprint is global including 17 subsidiaries and competence centers around the world, employing 1,700 employees. 3W Power is also the name under which the group operates in South Africa and in Ukraine. For more information go to: www.aegps.com
About Trevor de Vries
With an expertise in business development spanning 15 years, Trevor de Vries has grown the revenue of a number of local subsidiaries of multinational corporations, including Compaq, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Spescom, Sybase and AEG Power Solutions. As Managing Director of 3W Power South Africa (Pty) Ltd / AEG Power Solutions for the SADC region, he is actively developing the South African and Sub-Saharan markets for industrial and renewable energy solutions.