At a time when demand for power is increasing rapidly, supply does not seem to be growing at the same pace thus creating a deficit in many parts of the world and India. Consequently, the demand for power generation equipment such as diesel generators continues to increase.
In India’s urban areas, the interruption in power supply becomes evident with the start of a whirring noise made when a diesel genset begins its gentle humming accompanied with the smell of fumes. In large parts of India, it is not uncommon to find large gensets installed at numerous locations that are prey to footfalls. According to guesstimates, the total installed power generation capacity of diesel gensets in India has exceeded 90,000 MW, or the equivalent of 36% of India’s total power generation capacity. As per more figures compiled by the country’s power regulator, the DG capacity is growing at a rate of 5,000 MW to 8,000 MW every year. That is higher than the cumulative nuclear and solar capacities being added year-on-year in the country.
This estimation of 90,000 MW takes into account only large units with over 100kVA. If smaller units in apartment complexes and household are taken into account, the figure could be much larger. Policymakers thus far believed that the installed capacity of such units was just over 1,000 MW, while in reality it was 90 times as much. And so there is no estimation of how much fuel is consumed by these gensets. Apart from the fact that they spew tonnes of carbon-dioxide, the gensets run on subsidised diesel. The cost of generation from a mid-sized DG set is over Rs 14-15 per unit.
According to Sanjay Jadhav, president (powergen business) at Sterling Wilson, “The Indian market over the last two decades has seen a dramatic change in the DG set market. The mechanical engines have been replaced with more electronically controlled options, which results in higher fuel efficiency, reduction in toxic emission gases, ease of maintenance through faster trouble shooting during breakdowns, and improved life of the engines. Now you have options for synchronising, remote monitoring and control, automated data analysis and even synchronising with the grid directly. Most of the engines are now manufactured in India and India is becoming the global supply base for many engine manufacturers. The largest investment is coming in from Perkins, a Caterpillar company, who is building a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant at Aurangabad in Maharashtra. This is one of their largest manufacturing plants outside of UK for the large engine range i.e 750kVA TO 2,250kVA.”
Diesel generators are the most polluting. One needs to first analyse the causes for high levels of toxic emissions. The most important factors include outdated technology, poor fuel quality and negligence towards maintenance schedules as per the manufacturer guidelines.
Jadhav says, “The following are some of the drivers that contribute to stringent emission norms going into the future: Environmental concerns; health hazards; internationally severe norms being enforced like Euro Stage 4, Tier 4 norms; multi-national organisations setting up facilities in India; green buildings; global pressure to reduce emission levels and depleting energy sources; competitive environment forcing manufacturers to upgrade technology; and Indian organisations trying to become more global.”
It is for this reason that most manufacturers are making generators that fuel efficient, robust and reliable, long life, less vibration, less noise, low cost of ownership, best after sales service network.
On July 1, 2014, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) introduced a new emission standard, the CPCB II, for diesel engines below 800kW. Pankaj Jha, South Asia marketing manager, Perkins, says, “Prior to the new emissions standards being introduced, we had already taken progressive steps to meet the requirements as our 400kVA and 500kVA engines already meet the required standards. We also recently launched 4006D-23TAG2, 750kVA engine offering, which meets CPCB II.”
Kirloskar Oil Engines (KOEL) organised a meeting in January this year with their channel partners at Pune where they jointly welcomed the new Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB-II) norms for diesel generation sets up to 800kVA. Speaking on the occasion Sanjeev Nimkar, VP (power generation business), said, “It is evident that the price of CPCB-II compliant engines will be 15-20% higher than the ones available currently. We anticipate smart buyers would buy diesel gensets before the price rise with the new CPCB-II norms i.e. from 1 April 2014 which could lead to a rise in demand of gensets. In addition to this our recent offering of 10 years of free service on select gensets range will further motivate the buyers to prefer Kirloskar Green with peace of mind.”
Low power rating diesel gensets are the largest revenue generating segment in the global diesel market due to high volume usage in commercial, manufacturing, power, utility, telecom, data centre, mining and petrochemical industries. However, the very high power diesel gensets segment is expected to witness fast growth compared to all other segments. A July 2014 report prepared by research and consulting firm GlobalData, focusing on energy and healthcare industries, also notes that while the US, China and India are currently the top markets for diesel gensets, their market share will improve only in China and India by the end of the forecast period of 2020.
India is the world’s largest market for diesel gensets along with China and the US. According to a report by RNCOS, a consultancy firm, revenues of diesel genset manufacturers has been rising and is set to go past $3.3 billion by the end of 2018. This increase in demand for diesel gensets is due to unreliable power and in some cases, due to the lack of access to grid electricity. With no other option available, industrial complexes depend on diesel.
India has one of the most stringent conformance of production procedures in the world. Most manufacturers in India ensure that their products meet the local regulations in the countries in which they are sold, including India, while providing customer value.
“With these new emissions norms comes a requirement for a significant reduction in nitrogen oxides (NO2). Our latest emissions technology addresses these reductions while also delivering some fuel consumption improvements compared to previous engine models. In general, our customers and the surrounding communities will benefit through lower emissions and improved air quality. Our customers can also benefit by utilising products that consume less fuel to do more work,” says Jha of Perkins.
Most companies are working on developing products that are not only environment-friendly but also fuel efficient. Cummins’ B series diesel generators, for example, offer low noise levels and are certified by CPCB for emissions and noise compliance. They meet stringent exhaust emission tests as per ministry of environment and forests norms, without sacrificing fuel efficiency at normal operating loads.
V Sudheesh, assistant area manager, telecom sales, Mahindra Powerol, says, “By using the variable speed gensets which optimises the fuel consumed, we can reduce the amount of fuel burnt thereby reduce the extent of pollution. Alternatively by deploying the solar-DG hybrid we can reduce the usage of gensets.”
There are various technologies available that help in reducing emission levels:
Emission control techniques on the engine side: Injection timing control, injection pressure control, exhaust gas recirculation and EGR cooling and inter-cooling.
Emission control techniques through after treatment: Diesel oxidation catalyst; help in reducing CO, HC and PM emission levels; when offered with suitable coating the NO2 levels reduce approximately by 5-10%; particulate filters; help in reducing PM emission levels in the range of 50 to 90% depending upon the design chosen; catalysed diesel particulate filter (CDPF); and catalysed diesel particulate filters (CDPF) can lower the regeneration temperature slightly.
Catalytic coating performs several functions: Oxidising CO and HC and oxidising NO to NO2; Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR); and using ammonia (NH3) as the reductant, selective catalytic reduction (SCR) reduces NOX to nitrogen in a suitable catalytic converter.
Some of the techniques offered through DG package are:
Remote radiator housed above DG set enclosure
Remote radiators help in reducing radiator power requirement to a tune of 25%
Temperature of charge air to the combustion chamber can be further reduced for a air to water charge air cooler system
Air washer system to be installed at fresh air intake side of enclosure helps in providing intake air at a reduced ambient condition.
Genset manufacturers are also plagued with the problem of dealing with the unorganised market. But their presence is in the smaller kVA market i.e 5kVA to 100kVA. With the new CPCB II norms, the unorganised players are at a disadvantage as their engine offerings do not meet the required emission criteria and will need huge investments to upgrade the technology. This is unlikely as they may find the returns not attractive as the price gap with organised players will substantially reduce after the upgradation. Most genset makers are sure that in the long term the threat from unorganised players will start waning off.
In terms of the construction industry, the high cost of retrofitting a site for noise reduction makes it imperative for contractors to select the right machine that meets the project’s requirements. Although gensets up to 125kVA are more popular in the residential segment,
construction sector has demand for 15kVA to 500kVA machines. The commercial sector has demand for gensets 250kVA onwards. As construction sites are very dusty, regular maintenance like cleaning of radiator and air cleaners needs to be carried out.
Simultaneously, with users and contactors becoming more aware of sustainable products available in other parts of the world, they are asking for similar products in India as well. On the technology front, industry experts say, diesel gensets are also undergoing a lot of changes. There is a growing demand for fuel-efficient engines with lower exhaust emissions. CRDI (Common Rail Direct Injection) is another major technological advancement that is getting popular in the genset industry.
Ritwik Barua, manager (training & technical publications), Mahindra Powerol, says, “Some of the advancements in generators in India are indigenous DG controller, indigenous electronic controller, controller with Indian languages (developed by Sedemac) and variable speed ACDG.”
Perkins recently launched the updated 750kVA engine that comes with excellent power density, fuel consumption and dependability. The newly released Perkins 4006D-23TAG2, which uses a Diesel Oxidation Catalyst (DOC) after treatment system to meet India’s CPCB II emissions standards, is a mechanical fuel injection diesel engine, specifically designed to meet customers’ critical requirements. “The 750kVA prime offering is an important node for our Indian customers, so we’ve enhanced our engine offering, to ensure we’re delivering one of the most competitive products available at this key prime node. We’ve used the most appropriate and efficient technology to not only meet the CPCB II emission norms but to enhance the performance and power density, enabling us to offer our valued customers a competitive product, in all respects,” says Simon Gray, electric power product marketing manager, Perkins.
Another important USP is the warranty it offers. It is a two-year offering/6,000 hours warranty on Perkins’ 4000 series engine range.
The generator market has been growing quite steadily in the last few years. But market analysts say the sector will pick up more momentum soon. Construction activities in India are expected to increase, thanks to growing demand from the real estate, industrial and commercial sector. Research suggests there is a demand-supply gap of over 15% in power generation. The market is growing at an annual rate of 15-20%, varying within the three different segments —generators, UPS and inverters.
Although the competition is tough, major players like Cummins-Powerica, KOEL, Kohler Power, Mahindra Powerol, Ashok Leyland and few other imported brands are all gearing up to cash in on the huge market potential that the sector offers. But they do realise that they need to offer cutting-edge technology, enhanced fuel efficiency and lowest emission features to succeed in the long run. India might have been a slow mover when it comes to technology adoption in the past, but it’s fast catching up with its western counterparts.