Frequently Asked Questions
Microgrids are local energy systems with sources of generation, storage, and advanced automation and control that are able to function with the grid or independently from the grid, delivering:
- Energy cost certainty and optimization
- Enhanced resilience and reliability
- Accelerated emissions reductions
An on-grid microgrid is still connected to the utility, receiving or even sending power back to the grid. An off-grid one that can disconnect from the utility when the grid goes down — for example, due to a weather event — and is able to operate as its own independent system.
No. They can also be used to address an organization’s thermal needs, from steam to hot water and chilled water. Microgrids can incorporate a combined heat and power system (can be based on a gas turbine, engine, or fuel cell), which is how they address not only electrical needs but also thermal ones.
Some of the most important aspects we consider when designing a microgrid include reliability, resilience, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, and cost predictability.
Reliability is about making sure your company can operate day to day at its full capacity, and resilience means ensuring it can bounce back quickly and efficiently during an outage from an extreme weather event or other disruption. Greenhouse gas emissions reduction means operating more efficiently to reach your sustainability targets, and cost predictability is understanding what your costs are from that start and reducing unexpected/unplanned costs over the long term.
Energy as a Service
Energy as a Service (EaaS) deploys custom-designed, on-site energy infrastructure — such as a microgrid — without the need for up-front capital investment.
EaaS unburdens organizations from designing, financing, owning, installing, and managing their own energy infrastructure so they can focus on core business needs.
EaaS helps businesses achieve long-term outcomes around resilience, reliability, greenhouse gas reduction, and cost-stability simply, efficiently, and with price certainty guaranteed.
- Guaranteed outcomes: Resilience, reliability, greenhouse gas reduction, and cost-stability
- Risk-mitigation: Transferred risk of designing, financing, owning, installing, and managing the energy infrastructure
- Reduced complexity: No up-front capital or energy transformation expertise needed
- Long-term partnership: Energy infrastructure expertly designed, built, owned, operated, and maintained for you
- Cost predictability: Known pricing and protection from energy cost volatility
Through Energy as a Service, clients avoid the risk of designing, financing, owning, installing, and managing their own on-site energy infrastructure. As an Energy as a Service provider, AlphaStruxure also absorbs the long-term operating and performance risks of the assets we design and build.
An Energy Service Agreement (ESA) is a pay-for-performance, financing solution that allows clients to implement customized on-site microgrid projects with zero upfront capital expenditure.
An ESA is an agreement between a client and Energy as a Service provider under which the client retains the EaaS provider to develop and install an energy system on the Client’s site. The EaaS provider procures, constructs, owns, and operates the system over a long term to deliver energy, resilience, reliability, sustainability, and other energy benefits to the client. The client pays the seller for energy services, and the seller commits that the system will remain available to serve the client and will achieve agreed energy benchmarks.
The budget is the biggest difference here. In a CapEx model, organizations would deploy their own capital up front to build the system, with a smaller operations budget over time for the operation. CapEx models sit on an organization’s balance sheet, and the organization assumes all risks of a budget overrun or operational issues.
With EaaS, there is zero CapEx outlay up front, and organizations pay over time through monthly energy payments. Associated risks are assumed by the EaaS partner.
A zero-CapEx financing model allows organizations to preserve capital and resources for core business activities while achieving long-term outcomes. This is made possible through a long-term contract that ensures predictable operating expenses and guaranteed performance. It’s also secured through a customized solution managed by energy experts without the need for in-house resources. Finally, organizations save capital and resources due to a lower risk profile as construction and because operating risks are absorbed by the EaaS provider.
Shifting your organization’s CapEx into OpEx allows you to invest in your business and what you do best. But beyond the CapEx, an EaaS partnership lifts the burden of risk associated with complicated microgrid design, implementation, operations, maintenance, and ownership where your organization may not have the total skill set, time, or capacity.
Having an expert EaaS partner not only allows organizations to leverage their expertise while being free to focus on what you do best but also offers guarantees of performance. Neither is possible with a self-built microgrid.
It’s what we do! At AlphaStruxure, we welcome complexity and operate around custom-tailored solutions and project delivery. Our approach is driven by client collaboration around the organization’s site-level objectives as well as their larger sustainability, reliability, resilience, and cost stability goals. Our team of industry experts works hand-in-hand with the client to understand their unique needs and design criteria, then design a best-fit, techno-economic solution that meets organizations’ goals for today and tomorrow.
As an exclusive provider of behind-the-meter microgrids, AlphaStruxure has vast experience balancing the design of a resilient energy system with sustainability goals and costs.
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) resources convert sunlight into electrical energy and are proven to be a reliable, widely deployed technology to generate electricity. The adoption of solar technology includes robust understanding of its limitations. Solar PV is a valuable component of a microgrid supplementing other assets in the on-site generation of electricity.
As owners and operators of on-site behind-the-meter energy systems that provide electrical and thermal energy, our definition of reliability and resilience focus on what it means for the customer. Specifically, what are the different forms of energy required to maintain their business. Thus, AlphaStruxure defines reliability as providing the expected quantity and quality of the energy products. One without the other makes both useless. This seemingly simple definition has many layers, including the ability isolate different timescales (e.g., improving power factor to critical load capacity), and ultimately gets codified in our guarantees (i.e., contractual expectations) to the customer.
Behind every AlphaStruxure microgrid is the Integrate Digital Platform and Network Operations Center, offering a clear picture of reliable energy system operations and your progress toward your sustainability goals. Integrate monitors and optimizes your tailored energy infrastructure to deliver long-term outcomes, freeing you up to focus on core business needs.
Integrate puts the power of data science, predictive analytics, and repeatable processes to work behind the scenes. It delivers reliable, real-time visibility into key performance metrics for your on-site energy infrastructure.
Cybersecurity plays a critical role in the daily secure operation of the on-site energy system (microgrid) by assuring that only authorized, authenticated users connect to the system. In addition, cybersecurity refers to the systems and oversight that detect threats and anomalies, removes challenges to the security of the system, and cleans and closes unused pathways that represent opportunities for attackers. By design, microgrids are less vulnerable than the grid because of their localized energy footprint, ability to create a well-protected cyber envelope, and very limited role-based access.