PacB Group // Large Generators – Mitigating Electrical Power Supply Challenges in South Africa


Large Generators – Mitigating Electrical Power Supply Challenges in South Africa

Why are large generators one of the key purchases required by South African commercial and industrial businesses?

The reality of the state of the South African electrical generation fleet and distribution infrastructure is felt by South Africans of all walks of life daily. Eskom’s woes are well known to all and result in disruptions to the grid power supply, which are pervasive and multifaceted.

Whether caused by issues such as copper cable theft and circuit breaker malfunction due to poor maintenance or a lack of functional capacity generally, the upshot is nationwide occurrences of load-shedding and frequent technical outages.

Load-shedding, a distinct South African challenge, involves deliberate power shutdowns typically lasting between two to four hours, although longer periods of up to eight hours do sometimes occur. To prevent a total collapse of the national power grid due to excessive demand, Eskom implements load-shedding. Most businesses, particularly those involved in manufacturing, cannot afford to cease operations during these periods, which necessitates the adoption of alternative power solutions.

Load-shedding is known for its adverse impact on citizens, businesses, and the national economy but the most damaging economical consequences are carried by commercial and industrial entities. Losses from the interruptions of trade and productions are significant and commercial and industrial operators are virtually obliged to look for, and invest in, some form of solution to Eskom’s inability to supply power reliably. One of the most employed solutions is the use of large generators.

Reliable access to electrical power is crucial for businesses in South Africa. Challenges posed by endemic power disruptions are economically crippling and highlight the critical role that large generators can play in overcoming interrupted productivity, potential data loss, and poor customer service. It underscores the imperative for businesses to adopt alternative power sources, such as large generators.

Large Generators Provide an Alternative During Grid Failure or Grid Unavailability

A large generator, in conjunction with an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), is a rapidly deployable, consistently available (relative to most renewable energy systems) power replacement for grid. A large generator can eliminate production standstills, diminishing profitability and a cascade of other negative consequences. A robust UPS solution guards against the potential loss or corruption of vital company data during power outages. Large generators, also sometimes referred to as industrial generators, are designed specifically for commercial and industrial applications. They are typically powered by diesel engines and come in units designed to operate continuously (primary generators) and standby units which are intended to operate on a more ad hoc basis. Prime power gensets are engineered for continuous operation and adaptability to varying loads so are designed for durability and long running intervals between required services and maintenance.

Modern businesses are heavily dependent on electronic devices and systems. Remote enterprises, such as mines, without access to the national power grid, must establish independent power-generation capabilities. Large generators emerge as an indispensable tool, offering independent and controlled power-generation solutions in remote locations.

Distinguishing Characteristics of Large Generators

Large generators exhibit key characteristics that set them apart, including their capacity for high power output and their enhanced durability. They also come with advanced control system options. Large generators are typically characterised by their customisability and scalability, allowing adaptation to the dynamic requirements of business and industrial facilities.

Large generators boast power-output capacities ranging from hundreds of kilowatts to megawatts, making them suitable for supplying electricity to large power-hungry facilities, such as commercial buildings, manufacturing plants, and mines. The construction of large generators is marked by the use of heavy-duty materials in their manufacture, to provide resilience and reliability over extended operational lifespans.

Large generators typically come with comprehensive service and technical support packages provided by the manufacturer. Packages encompass monitoring, regular maintenance, services, and 24/7 customer support to guarantee the efficient and reliable operation of the generator.

Sizing and Specifying Large Generators Requires Skill and Experience

Sizing a commercial generator involves determining the capacity needed to meet a site’s electrical loads. This involves not only the amount of power required but also the type of power demanded. This is crucial to ensure that the generator can handle the load requirements without overloading. Gensets should also ideally be run at around 75% of their maximum capacity to maximise the unit’s lifespan and obtain the best running costs.

Which Large Generator Supplier to Choose?

The acquisition of a genset is often perceived as necessary but is usually an unpopular procurement. Like insurance, its seen as a bit of a “grudge” purchase. Given the limited prospects of Eskom improving grid reliability in the short to medium term, companies find themselves compelled to invest in generators as a preventive measure against the undesirable consequence of power cuts. Once the decision to commit a reasonably substantial amount of capital to this investment is reached, the critical question arises: Who to turn to for reliable guidance, industry leading products, and exemplary service?

Conducting a web search for “large generators” yields a bewildering array of potential suppliers, each proclaiming expertise and superiority. Unfortunately, this plethora of results does little to streamline the selection process, making it challenging to identify the genuinely outstanding vendors proficient in the manufacturing, supply, and installation of large industrial generators. Given the substantial capital investment associated with acquiring industrial generators, this initial decision is critical.

Generators, although conceptually straightforward, entail intricate design and execution. Complexity intensifies with the increase in size of the industrial generator, escalating the potential for unforeseen complications. In the realm of specifying large industrial generators, even fundamental queries, such as determining the appropriate genset size, necessitate a wealth of experience and a heightened level of technical proficiency.

At PacB, our focus from inception has been the construction of cutting-edge, high-capacity industrial generators of the highest quality. We remain dedicated to the manufacturing, supply, servicing, and repair of large generators and engine control panels, specifically designed for industrial or business electricity-generating purposes.

For larger-scale projects necessitating electricity-generation solutions, we now provide a comprehensive resource. Whether the requirement entails integrating business or industrial generators, Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) units, renewable energy sources, or a combination of alternative energy sources, our team provides expertise and support throughout the project lifecycle.

Although our business has evolved into a recognised authority in both renewable power generation and hybrid power solutions, we are especially proficient with large generators. We bring extensive expertise and specialised knowledge to the supply of large generators. Our expertise encompasses unit sizing, noise mitigation, and hybrid system configuration. Contact us today to access our wealth of experience and ensure the implementation of the right solution backed by unparalleled support.

Our qualified technicians offer support and advice in the selection of the right power solution for your needs by calculating your power requirements.

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