How do I power my site operation? Our sister firm, Rock Clean Energy's Director, Chris Roberts,

This is a question we don’t normally ask ourselves, but we should.

That is because, traditionally, we’ve simply taken it for granted that we can ‘plug’ our site operation into the electricity grid and that’s it; everything works as expected and will continue to do so.

But any senior manager/director who still believes this to be a sound business strategy is sure to lose the business any competitive advantage.

As a director it could be argued you’re failing in your statutory duty to act in the best interest of your company and its stakeholders.

Powering your business in this way is as sound a business strategy as it would be to recruit key employees by grabbing random people off the street and offering them the average UK wage. You may think my comparison unreasonable so let’s explore further…

There are three key resources that most businesses require:

1. People

2. Raw materials (if you make physical products)

3. Energy, mostly in the form of electricity/power

You already know that if you don’t recruit the right people, with the right skills, at the right price then your business is sure to fail.

You wouldn’t dream of recruiting random people off the street. So, you develop job descriptions and people specifications. You might appoint a recruitment consultant (and pay them handsomely) to do this for you and find the right people to meet the business’s needs.

You go through a defined recruitment process to shortlist, interview and appoint people. You need to be confident that the people you recruit are the right fit for your business, are reliable, loyal and team players. E

Even after recruitment you need to keep them motivated so that they are productive and contribute to a safe and happy working environment.

You might also cross-train staff, so your business is resilient in the case of illness.

When you source raw materials your procurement/technical team will develop a detailed technical specification to ensure the materials are of the right quality. You’ll assess potential suppliers to ensure they can deliver the right quantities flexibly, reliably and at the right price.

You’ll want to be confident that they won’t let you down at the critical moment you get that large order. After sales service is probably also a key pre-requisite. You may even decide to spread your risk with two or more suppliers for each raw material. If you get this wrong, your end product will be sub-standard, and you’ll lose customers.

So why wouldn’t you apply the same common-sense and rigorous approach to your power supply? One of the three most critical inputs into your business?

So, let’s revisit the question: how do I power my site operation? If you simply plug it into the grid and hope:

* Does the supply have enough capacity?

* Can that supply capacity grow as the business grows? (there are often local limitations because of network constraints)

* Is the connection reliable? (and if it is now, is it likely to stay that way?)

* Is your business resilient i.e. what would be the impact of power outages?

* Do you only have the one supply?

* What is the cost? Is it a burden?

* How are increased power costs going to impact on your bottom line?

* Are you increasingly affected by peak time costs?

* Can you readily pass increase costs to your customers?

* What carbon emissions result from your power supply and is that consistent with your customers’ expectations of your business and/or CSR policy.

These are all questions you should be thinking about and addressing. A one-source power supply is no longer the answer.

To recap...

Businesses have three key inputs:

1. People

2. Raw materials

3. Energy/power

You adopt rigorous processes and policies to get the right people and the right raw materials from reliable suppliers (perhaps several), yet for power you just plug into the grid as a single source and hope (or pray).

A sensible strategy would be to apply the same level of rigour to power as you do the other two key inputs. Rather than simply rely on one connection/supply our argument is you should aim to have at least 2 if not 3 sources.

This gives you flexibility, resilience, and the control of cost that your business needs to remain competitive:

1. The grid as before with the right capacity for now and the foreseeable future

2. On-site battery storage

3. On-site generation (e.g. Combined Heat and Power, Solar, Wind)

A connection to the grid will always be the primary supply “backbone” for your power needs. If you need a new or increased capacity connection, then with our sister company Rock Power Connections we can arrange that for you. But the addition of a battery storage system with or without on-site generation such as solar can:

* Provide back-up power in the event of black-outs or brown-outs with your grid connection

* Provide extra power at certain times of day where your existing capacity is insufficient because the business has grown

* Reduce costs and even generate revenue

* And in the case of some forms of on-site generation like solar, reduce costs and carbon emissions.

Rock Clean Energy is one of the few companies that can help you look at your needs in the round.

To determine the solution we work with our clients to understand how they’re using power.

When they’re using it.

How much they use at particular times of day.

What are the costs?

What are future plans for production on the site?

We can then tailor a solution with the right combination of all of the options to power your business long into the future.

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