Industrial Generators and Why They Are More Necessary Than Ever
Let’s begin with a brief history of the power generation…
Contrary to what many people may believe, the first functional industrial generators were not supplied to utility companies. In practice, the first to purchase them were mainly individual businesses whose owners required electrical power to perform some particular task. Following Edison’s invention of the electric light bulb, typically, it would be a bank or perhaps one of the larger retail stores that might choose this option to improve the quality of artificial lighting on its premises. The move to this new technology allowed them to dispense with the comparatively dull illumination typical of gaslight, along with the attendant risks of fire, explosion, and carbon monoxide poisoning.
In 1879, the city of Newcastle in the United Kingdom became the first in the world to illuminate an entire street with electric lights. Just four years later, in 1882, Britain’s capital city of London also claimed a world record when it became the first to build a public power station. The construction consisted of a 125 horsepower, coal-fired steam engine that drove a massive generator that weighed an incredible 27 tonnes. Other cities, notably in America, were quick to follow London’s lead. Electricity would soon replace the steam power that had been the cornerstone of the industrial revolution On the South African scene, it was the General Electric Power Company that, in 1998, built the nation’s first electricity generating plant a Driehoek near the Johannesburg suburb of Germiston.
Over time, it has become the norm for dedicated utility companies to assume the responsibility for supplying electricity, not just to businesses and industrial plants without generators but also to the nation’s homes. That said, the practice of companies and even private citizens generating power independently has not only persisted but, for a variety of reasons, it has been increasing.
Why Industrial Premises often need On-Site Generators
Despite the vast quantities of power generated by many utility companies, it is often unable to meet the demands of some businesses. The reasons for this are manifold and will often be related to the physical location of a business.
For example, more often than not, the mining and oil and gas industries must conduct their operations in some of the country’s more remote areas. Not surprisingly, in many cases, the national power distribution network will not extend into such areas given that they are seldom populated. Typically, these are also industries that consume vast quantities of power, often as much as a small town or even more.
To guarantee they can meet their needs under all circumstances, they will invariably need to purchase several generators. One or two of these will typically be kept in reserve for use in the event of a breakdown or to act as a backup machine while another unit may be undergoing routine preventative maintenance. A constant supply of electricity in the mining industry can be especially crucial. It is not only used to power machinery but to supply air to shafts and keep them free of water. Failure to do so could threaten the lives of underground workers.
Mains Power Alone May Not Always Be Enough
The country has numerous industrial estates, especially in those areas surrounding Johannesburg and Pretoria. All enjoy the benefit of occupying premises within an area served by the national grid and, as a rule, this arrangement will generally be adequate for most of them. However, every rule tends to have its exceptions. In this instance, even in a dedicated industrial area, some companies are sure to find that mains power only succeeds in meet their operating requirements for some of the time. However, at those times, when their power demand reaches its peak, mains power alone is no longer sufficient to maintain their desired production levels. To cope during those periods of peak demand, the solution is for these companies is to power up one or more on-site generators to augment the mains output.
There is an alternative way to deal with those potentially disastrous variations in the load demand for those who may choose not to rely on or who perhaps do not have access to the national network. The answer is to create an interconnected array containing the number of generators that, at peak combined output, will be sufficient to exceed the maximum demand comfortably. With the help of suitable process control software, it then becomes possible to ensure that the number of units online and their combined output will adjust automatically to match the load demand precisely at all times. This setup will eliminate both the risk of costly interruptions to production and damage to overburdened generators.
Coping with Emergencies
Within the healthcare and hospitality industries, the guarantee of a continuous stable power supply can be crucial. In the intensive care ward of a hospital or its operating theatres, a loss of power could lead to failures of critical life-preserving equipment such as a dialysis machine or a respirator. If the power interruption should continue for too long, patient deaths are almost inevitable.
The consequences of a power failure should not pose such a severe or immediate threat to the guests of a hotel or the diners in a restaurant. However, like the hospitals, these too will be sure to have installed a backup industrial generator to cope when such emergencies occur. Schools and other public institutions will generally also take steps to remain operational during power outages.
When Emergencies Become Routine
Anyone aged 18 or over will probably remember the time when, if the lights went out, it was because lightning had damaged a nearby transformer or a substation. From time to time, there might be a warning that essential work on power lines would be taking place and that some areas would be without electricity for a few hours. While we might have considered these events to be a nuisance, most South Africans would be only too happy to return to those times.
Sadly, the national demand for power now regularly exceeds Eskom’s generating capacity. This the reason for the rolling blackouts intended to conserve electricity for those whose needs are most crucial. The ongoing threat of regular, prolonged outages has meant that the demand for industrial generators is now greater than ever. On the plus side, PacB Group offers world-class solutions to meet all of the contingencies described and the expertise to recommend and implement the option that is right for you.
Our qualified technicians offer support and advice in the selection of the right power solution for your needs by calculating your power requirements.