An ABI Research smart energy survey queried 114 executives at manufacturing operations in the United States about their energy-related challenges and which energy technology solutions and services they have adopted or are planning to adopt.
"In terms of challenges, the cost of energy predictably remains the most important concern (ranked as the most important challenge by 42% of the respondents), closely followed by how to interact with utilities to purchase energy effectively (41%). This echoes an increasingly complex and opaque energy purchasing environment," explains Dominique Bonte, vice president of verticals & end markets at ABI Research.
"The adoption of on-site micro-grids for renewable energy generation seems to lag, ranking lowest in implementation (25%). However, the fact that there is a high percentage of 'planned' (34%) indicates heightened awareness and intentionality, suggesting the enterprise segment will catch up in achieving a higher level of independence from the energy utilities."Dominique Bonte
When it comes to adopting smart energy technologies, battery energy storage and backup solutions are, by far, the most implemented (61%), followed by energy efficiency tools, in particular automated sensor-based energy-saving smart lighting and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) solutions, as well as energy efficiency management software.
Another significant finding from the survey is the high degree of variation across the various manufacturing verticals due to specific contexts and environments:
- Pharmaceuticals Vertical - has the highest implementation level of microgrids generating renewable energy.
- Transportation, Paints and Coatings, and Metals Verticals are leading in implementing energy storage and backup solutions.
- Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, and Automotive - high energy advisory and consultancy service users.
Company size is a key predictor for both the types of challenges and the adoption of smart energy technologies:
- The largest companies most often highlight regulation and legislation as the essential issue.
- Energy costs and lack of knowledge and expertise are the main issues for medium-sized companies.
- Managing the transition toward renewables is mainly an issue for small and medium-sized companies.
- Large companies systematically show much higher implementation levels of smart energy solutions, especially regarding microgrids, energy advisory, and consultancy services.