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Reaping Profits from Biomass, Solar, and Fuel Cell On-Site Generation

As emerging technologies increase in scale and maturity, and Fortune 500 companies commit to more sustainable operations, diesel generators' vice-like grip on the building on-site generation market is loosening. Adoption inertia has begun to give way with the growth of distributed solar, and that wave will continue with the adoption of biomass gasifiers and boilers, and fuel cells - as long as those systems can prove economic feasibility. Those economics will be aided by rising energy prices and incentives to avoid carbon dioxide emissions, but the most impactful factor - system cost reduction - is in the hands of technology suppliers and their partners.

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
      • We Modeled Each Combination of Technology, Building Type and Geography
  • Landscape
    • Energy Economics and Politics are Changing the Supply - and How We Generate It
    • There are Many Different Options for OSG and Storage
      • Conventional Options Include Diesel Generation Sets, and Storage Systems
      • Solar and Biomass Gasification Lead the New Wave of On-Site Technologies
      • Fuel Cells and Geothermal Address both Heat and Electricity Needs through Cogeneration
      • Other Mature, Large-Scale Generators have been Scaled Down, as Well
    • Each OSG Technology's Production Profile Must Suit Different Buildings' Unique Consumption Requirements
    • OSG Can Be Hindered by Low Resource Availability, and Boosted by Favorable Policy
    • Case Studies of On-Site Generation
    • Landscape Conclusions
  • Analysis
    • Payback Economics are the Basis for OSG Comparison, while Other Drivers are Inputs
      • A Base Case Enables Apples-to-Apples Comparison
      • Resource Availability, Energy Prices, and Incentives are Critical to Favorable Economics
      • Emissions Reductions and Carbon Taxes are Looming Drivers
    • Carbon Taxes, Technical Improvements, and Rising Energy Prices Paint a Different Picture
      • Carbon Taxes Can Bring OSG Systems to Bankable Levels
      • Reducing Upfront Capex Shortens the Payback Period, Specifically for Solar and Fuel Cells
      • Energy Prices Can Move the Needle on Specific OSG Options
  • Outlook
  • About Lux Research
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