Despite hearing for years about distributed generation's ability to lower energy costs and protect against an unreliable grid, the number one reason organizations are installing photovoltaic, fuel cell, microturbine, or wind systems is concern for the environment. Research Reports International surveyed 33 energy consumer end users who have implemented or are in the process of implementing these types of systems for its Distributed Generation (DG) Case Studies Report. Many of the commercial organizations surveyed have policies for reducing the environmental effect of their operations and view DG as a means of demonstrating their commitment to those policies. Another major reason noted in the report for implementing a DG system was to better understand the technology and its applications. However, this was most likely limited to organizations within the energy industry that hoped to gain a competitive edge in selling and/or installing such systems by installing and operating DG systems within their own businesses.
The report found that several organizations implemented a DG system because they had a fuel source like gas that they had to dispose of, and only a few of the customers implemented DG systems in order to lower their electricity costs. Some of the issues and challenges that organizations faced when implementing a DG system included getting buy-in from others, delays in system construction due to component shortages, lack of space, and noise level. Most of the organizations surveyed feel that this type of technology works, but that more education is needed because not enough people know about it to have widespread acceptance. In addition, there's no standard process for interconnecting these systems, which can lead to frustration among utility employees, facilities personnel, and regulators.