Craig Bouwer, projects and product manager at Zest WEG Group’s Generator Sets Division spoke to Construction World and explained why it is essential to ensure that this alternative power solution is fit for the purpose intended.
“While generator sets do not specifically offer energy consumption reductions, through careful selection of the major components such as the engine and alternator it is possible to reduce diesel consumption and subsequently the operating cost of these machines,” Bouwer says.
Zests fit for purpose power solutions1The Zest WEG Group generator installation at the Promenade Shopping Centre in Mitchells Plain.
Historically, commercial properties have tended towards a single large generator set which, according to Bouwer, is not always ideal. He says that, while it is common practice to install such a unit to supply the necessary back up power in the event of a power outage, there are numerous benefits to be received by installing multiple smaller synchronised generator sets in parallel.
Firstly, it is more efficient to run smaller generator sets at full load than one large generator set at half load. This eliminates the burning of unnecessary fuel as well as possible damage to the generator set.
“Not only does this improve fuel economy, it also reduces the capital outlay for a commercial property, and most importantly it will facilitate operational flexibility,” he says.
Zests fit for purpose power solutions2The super silent purpose built generator sets being lifted to the rooftop of the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital.
This local manufacturer of generator sets offers standard off-the-shelf units as well as purpose engineered solutions, and Bouwer is quick to point out that it is advantageous for the company’s technical team to be involved from early on in a project to allow for the most practical and cost effective solution to be applied.
Multiple smaller synchronised generators sets with synchronised controllers communicate with each other, allowing optimisation of the load demand. System reliability and generator set availability is also improved when installing more than one set in parallel onto a common bus. This means that should the first generator set not start, for any reason, the remaining units will then provide the power required.
“Zest WEG Group Generator Sets Division can assist contractors, consultants and architects at the design stage of a project to ensure the system can be engineered to shed less critical load and supply all essential load from the remaining available generator sets,” he explains. This mitigates against a total power outage situation as would have been experienced if the system was designed with only a single large generator.
This type of power solution with synchronised generator sets facilitates operational flexibility and means that there will always be an available unit to supply critical loads in a breakdown or maintenance scenario. In addition to this, when there is more than one generator set operating in parallel partially loading a generator set will be avoided and the generator management system will ensure that only the required number of generators is operated under low load scenarios ensuring the units run at their optimum designed power rating.
When multiple synchronised generator sets are installed, it is easy for the end user to expand the backup power supply should the on-site load increase as the controls and parallel switchgear are already in place.