PacB Group // The Versatility and Importance of Generators as Power Sources


The Versatility and Importance of Generators as Power Sources

Generators, also referred to as gensets, come in a plethora of brand names but they serve two primary purposes. Firstly, they can provide electrical power at sites that are not connected to the grid. This is known as prime power generation and needs a genset designed for this application. Prime power gensets are designed to run continuously and accommodate load variations. They require more durability than standby units and have unique design requirements. For instance, prime power gensets need a much larger fuel tank than standby units do.

Secondly, they can be utilised as backup units in cases where grid exists. In this application, the genset ensures continuity of electrical power during grid failures. Backup gensets are typically deployed in facilities where continuous electricity is critical, such as hospitals, communication hubs, fire stations, and server farms.

Backup gensets have become essential in South Africa for a wider and wider range of power users due to the increasingly unreliable grid. This is due to a combination of frequent scheduled (load shedding) and unscheduled (technical failures) outages.

The Versatility of a Generator as a Power Source

Michael Faraday’s discovery and explanation of electromagnetism led to him inventing several electromagnetic rotary machines that paved the way for modern generators and electric motors. Today’s generators and electric motors have come a long way from their early beginnings, and Nikola Tesla, who built on Faraday’s work, developed Alternating Current (AC), which has become the standard for modern society

The biggest advantage of gensets is their incredible versatility and adaptability as sources of electrical power. Gensets typically comprise an engine and, on a unit designed to output AC power, an alternator. The alternator produces electrical power when the rotor is turned by the diesel engine. Although diesel engines are typically employed to turn the rotor in the alternator sources like the kinetic energy stored in water (hydro schemes), steam, wind, wave, or tidal energy can also be used to turn the alternator rotor.

Connecting multiple gensets in parallel is possible, which can provide redundancy or increase total generation capacity. It is recommended to parallel identical gensets instead of different ones. Typically, gensets can output AC frequency of 50 or 60 hertz by running the engine at 1500 RPM for 50 Hz and 1800 RPM for 60 Hz. However, there are limitations to which gensets can be paralleled, and it is important to seek specialist advice before making any assumptions.

Range of Generator Sizes and Applications

Generators, in the broad sense of the term, are available in a wide range of sizes. The massive Three Gorges hydroelectric plant in China has the world’s largest generation capacity at 22,500 MW, while the world’s smallest gas turbine, (150 mm long), was developed by a research team at Tohoku University in Japan. It has a power output of 2.6 kW. The largest internal-combustion-engine-powered generation plant, powered by 38 Wärtsilä 50DF multi-fuel engines has a combined capacity of 573 MW and is located near Amman in Jordan. Because generators can be manufactured in virtually any size, they can be made portable and mounted on skids, built into shipping containers, or put on trailers, in trucks, on trains, and on ships, providing electrical power just about anywhere it may be required.

Different Generator Brands

There are many different brands of gensets available on the market, ranging from well-known brands with a global presence to smaller, specialised brands. Each brand offers a different set of features, design specifications, and capabilities. Choose the genset that fits your specific needs and budget. While some manufacturers build a complete genset under their brand name (Honda, for instance), the engine manufacturer will usually design and market the engine for a genset and another manufacturer will provide the alternator. A third-party generator manufacturer will then build a unit comprising the engine and alternator with the necessary accessories under their own brand name.

Popular alternator brands used in gensets in South Africa include Marelli Motori, New Era, Meccalte, Crompton Greaves, Leroy Somer, Engga, Megaton, Dinero, and Stamford, among others. Other notable brands producing engines for gensets include Cummins, Volvo, Perkins, Doosan, FAW, Iveco, and John Deere. Each of these brands offers its own unique set of features and capabilities, making it important to either research and compare different models or ask a specialist generator manufacturer to help find the best fit for your needs.

We at PacB have been manufacturing generators for over a decade. Our generators are known for their reliability and we also offer a wide range of models, making us a popular choice for residential and small commercial use.

Ultimately, the choice of generator brand will depend on your specific needs, budget, and preferences. It’s important to do your research, or even better, to engage with a reputable generator manufacturer like PacB. They will consider factors such as power output, fuel efficiency, noise level, and ease of use before suggesting a solution. They will also be capable of producing custom solutions for your particular site and load profile.

Energy Provision Requires Experience and Expertise

The provision of industrial-scale backup power requires a specialised approach and selecting the right partner with a proven track record is essential to ensure an optimal solution. We at PacB, an industry leader in power generation in Southern Africa, have a long-standing reputation for providing exceptional service and technical excellence. Our offerings include industry-leading engine brands and alternators for large-capacity industrial diesel gensets, as well as large-scale UPS solutions and renewable energy systems.

By entrusting our experienced engineers and technicians to design and implement a fit-for-purpose power solution, your company can avoid the financial and operational risks of not getting it right the first time. We are the go-to choice for your backup energy system as we are known for our unimpeachable reputation and our expertise in creating integrated hybrid solutions that incorporate diesel gensets, UPSs, and renewable energy sources. We can provide UPS units ranging from as small as 1 kVA to as large as 800 kVA. Our technical team is always available to offer telephonic or on-site assistance to support our products. Engage with an industry leader and discover how we can assist your company with a world-class backup energy system.

Contact us today.

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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