In many places, renewable energy has become synonymous with "higher electricity prices". Where Wind or Solar PV electric generation has been subsidized, electric energy prices have inevitably risen. Sometimes more than politicians expected or like. But removing long term subsidies can cause political problems from business and the noisy "green lobby". Consumers just grit their teeth and vow to vote their pocketbook when possible.
However, some larger electricity users have other options. One of the best is to use Natural Gas that is already purchased for heat generation to run an in-house electric generator. Ten years ago that option was only for the very large users because of the expense of the capital equipment. Today there are several options for even modest users; as low as 10MWh / month.
Two companies in this business are Capstone Turbine, CPST and Fuel Cell Energy, FCEL.
Capstone uses a 100k rev/minute gas turbine, directly coupled to an alternator, to produce electricity that is converted to local line format by an ancillary electronic power switching system. The turbine is quite compact for it's power output. It uses an exhaust heat regenerator for improved efficiency and can easily accept a secondary heat exchanger to heat water or make steam. It requires very little in the way of auxiliary inputs; a fuel supply and an exhaust stack. Electrical efficiency runs about 35 to 40%, depending on size and options. Cost is about $1k/kW, uninstalled.
Fuel Cell Energy sells fully developed, molten salt high temperature fuel cells for stationary energy generation. There FCs can accept clean natural gas and operate at an electrical efficiency of near 50%. They can also have their waste heat routed thru a heat exchanger for hot water or steam generation. Their advantages are superior electrical efficiency and quiet operation. However, they tend to require more maintenance and have a substantially higher purchase cost per kW.
Their exhaust is very clean, assuming the fuel source doesn't have any contaminants such as sulfur oxides. These fuel cells also use electrical converters to change their DC output to line frequency AC power, so that added cost is similar to a turbine generation system.
Considering that both systems produce "free" electricity if you already burn the NG for heat, the cost of money is the main impediment to their use. At today's interest rates the Capstone turbine payback period can be 4 years or less. I foresee many companies who are suffering from rapidly rising utility electricity prices adopting one of these technologies to avoid involuntarily joining the "green revolution" at the cost of their competitive position.