Diesel generators as a form of back-up power for Africa

Diesel generators as a form of back-up power for Africa

The current demand for electricity far outstrips supply causing frequent blackouts in African countries, yet significant increases in demand are expected during the forecast period. Consequently, major potential exists to sell diesel generators in the continent.

Today in terms of cost per kVA, flexibility and responsiveness, there is still no better source of standby power than a diesel generator. In the near future, we are going to see more power generation from renewable sources, although for the foreseeable future, we see generators powered by diesel engines co-existing with renewable power generation technologies. As in the automotive industry, hybrid generators are going to become more common. And in Africa, there is huge potential for microgrids, integrated local power grids where you might have solar panels, batteries, wind turbines and generators all linked together and capable of powering remote settlements on their own. This approach could be a very cost-effective way to help electrify Africa.

Suitability for the African Market

Remote monitoring

Remote monitoring lets you get and share information about your standby generator. Access important information such as current operating status, maintenance schedule, historical information, and more directly from your smartphone, tablet, or computer. This does allow regular monitoring at a minimum cost. This also makes such maintenance in rural areas with minimum infrastructure much easier.

Tropicalized generators

This exercise is carried out to adapt or make suitable for use in tropical regions, especially in regard to protection against the destructive effects of moisture and fungi.

Economical pricing

Due to the price sensitivity in the African markets, there is an option to combine various components such as the engine and alternator to achieve a more economical solution for such growing economy.

However, while cost and price competitiveness is always essential, companies and end-users also tend to prioritize services and support in the decision making process. According
to the Marketing Department of Visa SpA, an Italian company dedicated to design, production, sales and rental of generating sets; when choosing a genset brand it is important to evaluate a supplier in terms of their ability to support in the definition of the project, the development of the stages of it, the manufacturing, site installation, testing, up to the final commissioning.

Nevertheless, Mr. Joseph Kamau of Avery East Africa Limited a distributor of TCL powered by Perkins, CGM and Onis Visa in Kenya; comments that customers used to prefer known brands, but are now willing to try affordable but reliable brands.

Reaching its operational potential

According to Pooja Pandya of Engineering Supplies Limited a dealer of quality Industrial, Construction and Power generation equipment in Kenya, regular maintenance to ensure your engine generator set is running smoothly is quite important and can greatly extend its working life. “This applies whether the genset is in full time use or is kept as a standby; in the latter case it is particularly important because light loading brings operational problems, such as fouling of the injection and combustion system, of its own, In other words, infrequent use makes regular maintenance of a generating set all the more important,” she affirms.

She further adds that, as with a car or truck preventative work is always better than breakdown maintenance because it means the tasks can be done properly without pressure at a slack time that suits the operator. It also allows the technician to spot problems before they become serious and result in damage to working components.

Fuel quality also has an effect on the smooth running of the generator. Fuel with particles can clog or block the relevant generator part causing the generator to shut down. Also, using genuine spares can increase the life span of the machine.

Nevertheless, Ms. Jecinta W Gitonga of Hyperteck Electrical Services a distributor of Powerlink generators with Perkins engine in Kenya reiterates that; when the consumers goes for the best quality in the market, maintenance will not be an issue.

The PPM

It is important for the Periodic Preventive Maintenance to be done after every 250-300 working hours by a skilled person and genuine OEM recommended spares/consumables to be used; this is according to Jamil Qureshi the Senior Vice President of GWB Group in the United Arab Emirates. Getting the best product, best price, genuine spares and quality after-sales support is a big challenge in Africa, that is the reason GWB operates through its reliable channel partners network to support the customers across the region.

Filters and Fluids

It is also very important to think about filters and fluids. According to Aaron J Gooding of FG Wilson a supplier of a range of generators powered by diesel engines from 6.8 – 2500 kVA and powered by gas engines from 240 – 1,250 kVA in the UK; over the life of a generator, filters and fluids account for about 3% of operating costs but they have a huge impact on all the other costs and on the effectiveness of the generator. “Whatever generator you own, it is important to fit genuine filters and change oil as specified in your operator manual. To save money, it is tempting to use lower cost filters or to let routine maintenance slip but in the longer term, this is only going to cause problems and cost more money.  Do not wait until you see a problem before you think about changing the filters or oil. It could be too late,” he adds.

Load Function Tests

Load function tests are also very important to ensure your genset is in tip top shape. According to Cihan AKSOY of Teksan Generator a technology and engineering company that manufactures gensets in Turkey, all load function tests must be conducted and reported before the purchased generator sets leave the factory. “Those, who will buy a genset, should ask the producer whether they are able to do these tests in their own facility or by themselves,” he adds.

 

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