Gen-set and go - are the norms that genset companies are following
Not only generators are becoming a necessity in commercial and residential projects, they have also become more advanced and efficient
Power outages are a common problem in India. Be it rural area, urban or metro cities, they all suffer from power outages. People have slowly started realizing that the problem of a power outage is not something that they can control. However, what they can do to deal with it is get power generators that will help them resolve the issue. More and more people have started purchasing generators and in such a scenario, the generators manufacturing companies are making huge amounts of profit.
Large capacity industrial generators are also catching up in big infrastructure and residential projects with airports, gated communities, malls, manufacturing units, etc. buying them. Generator manufacturing companies say that they provide backup power to almost all sections of the economy ranging across datacentres, manufacturing, healthcare, hospitality, infrastructures like airports and metro stations, commercial and residential realty, agriculture and aquaculture farms, etc.
The power provided by the generator set is measured in kVA ratings. Larger the electricity requirement of the application/customer, larger is the kVA rating of the generator needed to provide the backup. Another key differentiator of the power generation application is the focus on reliability than durability. The running hours of power generation application are coming down significantly due to the government’s efforts, especially in urban and developed metro cities, to bring down the power deficit. Therefore, power generation customers have reduced their focus on the durability of the product. They are now focussed on reliability – which means the generator set should be available to start generating backup power whenever the customer needs it.
Not only residential and commercial buildings, but construction sites are also no stranger to power outages. A lot of equipment used in construction work requires electric power, sites are unable to get the grid supplies as most of the times they are in remote areas. While excavators, backhoes, bulldozers and road rollers are self-powered there are other machineries such as air compressors, hand drills, chain saws, battery chargers, electric welders etc. that requires motive power, which is supplied by these large capacity generators. At times the construction process is executed overnight which requires sufficient lighting and a lot of administrative tasks requires computers which are also powered by these generators.
The availability of power is even more imperative as developers are becoming increasingly inclined towards building affordable housing projects. The Housing For All initiative aims to build 20 million affordable housing units across India by 2022. Attracted by growing job opportunities in cities, consumer demand for affordable housing has increased exponentially. Furthermore, the real estate sector is set to grow at a rate of 30% Compound Annual Growth Rate in the next ten years. Large capacity generators will be a driving force of this growth.
Diesel-Fuel Vs Natural Gas
Diesel generator sets remain the most popular and reliable source of back-up power, worldwide and this is no different in India. Diesel gensets are known for their fuel efficiency, low emissions, superb performance and rugged reliability.
Babu Nagarajan, vice president, marketing & sales Power generation, Cummins India, said, “Broadly, a generator converts chemical energy contained in the fuel to mechanical energy, which then rotates the generator’s crank to generate electricity. A diesel-powered generator achieves the highest thermal efficiency as compared to any other combustion engine. That is one of the reasons why diesel-powered generators are more prevalent.
Nagarajan further added that whenever they introduce a new product, they conduct exhaustive reliability testing. They ensure that their engines run for thousands of hours (well above the average running hours the customer will use it for) with very harsh start-stop-load cycles. This ensures that the product design is capable of enduring the harshest of operating environments. “With respect to quality tests, we ensure that 100% of our products undergo testing at our factory premises where the actual end-user load conditions are simulated,” he stated.
All diesel generators undergo significant tests and certifications by manufacturing companies and central agencies. The emissions from the engine are kept in check, through guidelines set by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Over and above, all manufacturers of gensets require to possess a Type Approval certificate for each product and a COP (Conformity of Product) certificate for each series of product.
Rakesh Reddy, director, Aparna Constructions, said, “Diesel generators are preferred over natural gas models due to their higher robustness and better performance values. This is why they are particularly common on construction sites where power cables have not yet been installed. In spite of their high purchase price, diesel generators are best for frequent use due to their comparatively low fuel price. Some of the key advantages of diesel generators are high fuel efficiency, high reliability, quick turnaround time for repairs, easy availability of fuel, and compliance to statutory standards of performance, noise and environmental pollution.”
Commenting on the same, Rohit Poddar, managing director, Poddar Housing and development and joint secretary, NAREDCO Maharashtra said that developers prefer high power generators that are rugged, robust and can withstand the harsh conditions of the construction site. Mostly, stationary generators are preferred but at times portable generators are also considered for the mobility they provide. Some developers don’t mind spending on a solar generator because of its silent operations, better return of investment and abundance of sunlight, which helps in powering these generators. “Since construction sites are labor-intensive, developers only prefer generators which are ISO 8528, ISO 10000, BS 5514, IS, IP, IEC standards approved and follow CPCB guidelines,” he stated.
Over the last one year, the generators have also climbed the digital bandwagon, with the increasing adoption and dependency on staying connected. The gensets now come with remote monitoring solutions enabling customers to remain in touch with real-time information about their power system requirements. You can now access the health of your genset - system status, identify faults, and access critical notifications – through your work station, tablet or smartphone anytime, thus reducing your operations and maintenance costs.
Elaborating the changes in recent years, Poddar explained, “The generators market has changed significantly over the years. Today, customers get multiple fuel option in generators, which are budget-friendly. While conventional generators continue to have amazing sales, inverter generators, solar power generators are also catching up, especially in the construction market. The manufacturers have also started providing 24/7 breakdown assistance along with pre and post-sales service which is making the overall experience effortless.”
Citing an example in the changes Nagarajan said that Cummins offers “Power Command Cloud™ Digital Solutions” and it is a fully-integrated cloud-based system that brings together several features including anytime and anywhere visibility, 24/monitoring, on-the-go access, notifications via SMS/emails to multiple users, reporting and analytics, data trending, fleet management, and diesel level alert.
“Other innovations that have come in are related to the increasing “Power Density” of the generator sets. “Power Density” can be loosely defined as the KVA produced per litre of engine capacity. From a user point of view, this would mean that they can generate the same amount of power with a much smaller engine than before. While this sounds seemingly simple, the internal changes that the engine needs to go through to generate more power are very high,” Nagarajan pointed out.
Reddy explained that in 2006, Aparna Constructions introduced 100% Power Backup for the first time in Hyderabad. Although the purpose of the power generator has remained unchanged, its features have improved over the years. The rated output, maximum output, and runtime of generators have improved allowing for greater efficiency. Rated output refers to the wattage a generator is able to produce continuously, while maximum output refers to the wattage a generator is able to produce for a brief time at full power. Runtime refers to the amount of time the generator will run before it needs to be refuelled. Generators are now able to meet greater load requirements throughout a typical workday.
Another feature in power generators which is gaining momentum is environmental friendliness and compliance. Thanks to design innovations and energy efficiency improvements, generators now consume much less fuel than was possible a few years ago. The fact that the latest equipment can run for longer and more economically has been a big driver behind the market’s growth.
“Finally, customization and control are becoming more prevalent. You can customize a generator set that is specifically suited to your load requirements, thus avoiding wastage and additional costs. Generators can be fitted with Automatic Voltage Regulators (AVR) and Automatic Idle Control for specific use cases such as cold-weather climate. Control systems can offer the ability to remotely start and program the machine, display warnings, for instance, low fuel and other performance issues, in addition to delivering a broad range of analysis data. This helps to better utilize the efficiency of the generator while providing a valuable overview of how it is being used,” Reddy concluded.