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Meeting Africa’s power deficit

Africa is the world’s fastest growing continent and with this has come the need for more power to drive economic growth however, presently Africa suffers a severe power deficit that has emerged as the greatest threat to meeting its economic growth into the future. An African Development Bank report estimates that only 26% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population has access to electricity and for those who do have, the spectre of power outages is all too common resulting in a production loss of 12.5%.

Diesel power offers a stop gap measure as standby power or as prime power in more remote areas and the difference in the economic development gains is like the difference between night and day. During power outages, emergency backup electrical generators powered by diesel engines provide reliable, immediate and full strength electric power.

Admittedly loss of power does not only occur due to power deficits but it can also be caused by natural disasters but with society’s reliance on power to operate vital technological systems such as can be found in hospitals or in other essential utilities, the need for backup power becomes all the more critical

Diesel powered generators are favoured in buildings and other facilities because compared to other technologies they have quick response time and are able to start and absorb a full electrical load within ten seconds of grid power failure. Even where renewable sources such as wind or solar are preferred the diesel powered generator still comes in handy as a reliable backup.

Genset suppliers
Generator suppliers are many and you will need to look for one with a proven track record of offering reliable products and delivery after sales service as well.

From the onset it will be important to understand your needs, determine your power requirements and any loads to be applied to the equipment. This will enable the supplier to propose the best generator to suit your environment.

When buying a generator you will be looking no doubt for a generator that will give you years of service at minimal downtime and so it will be essential that your chosen supplier offer after sales service and a warranty to boot. For the amount of money you have to pay out you will be wise to avoid unknown brands most emanating from China which may be cheap but will cost you in the long run in terms of extended periods of downtime and frequent parts replacements.

Look for a generator that has a reliable diesel engine and here you need to look for one of the better known brand names and though you may pay more you will have piece of mind and avoid buying on the cheap which could mean losses due to increased downtime and repeated replacement of parts. Most reputable suppliers warn that you should avoid the allure of cheap generator sets from China as these don’t come with any warranty or backup support.

Going green
As environmental standards become more stringent as regards noise and emissions levels engine manufacturers are being forced to comply to these standards by introducing engines with lower noise and emission levels. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started implementing emission standards in 1996 to be implemented over a four year period beginning 2007. Stationary emergency generator sets (generators that operate when normal power is lost) need to comply to a Tier 2 and Tier 3 level whereas non emergency generator sets (generators used to support the load when normal power is present) have to comply to Tier 4. With the ever increasing demands to become “Green” its only a matter of time before we in Africa begin seeing more and more stringent laws being passed to ensure that we lower our carbon footprint and come in line with many European countries who have already adopted these systems and complied to these international standards.

Though diesel generator sets are reliable and can run for thousands of hours without any maintenance it is inevitable and both preventive and scheduled maintenance needs to be observed because even the very best machines need to be taken care of.

Generally the periods between each service will depend on the operating conditions of the machine meaning how many hours it is run, the ambient temperature and other environmental conditions like dust. Preventive maintenance can be done by in house personnel who can be guided by a service log. Preventive maintenance will involve issues like lubrication, battery, cooling and fuel systems. More thorough maintenance such as overhauls will be best left to more professional personnel from the service company.

If you follow the right steps when purchasing your generator and adhere to proper maintenance procedures you should have a generator that will serve you for many years.



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