Take a moment and imagine that a major power outage has just hit your city. While your competitors scramble around in the dark, your business remains brightly lit and fully operational. Why? Because you had the foresight of installing a remote monitoring package on your backup generators which allowed you to identify potential maintenance issues and get them addressed prior to any grid power outage.
This isn’t just a nice-to-have feature . . . it’s a critical component in safeguarding your business amidst the increasingly unpredictable US electrical grid!
The Silent Menace: Unpredictable Power Failures
Did you know that estimates pin business losses due to power outages in the US at over $30 billion annually? Backup generators may be the first line of defense, but without proper monitoring, they’re kind of like the old tractor stored in the back of a barn . . . it’s simply not going to start when it is needed most!
Remote monitoring solutions take the uncertainty away by providing real-time data and empowering proactive decision-making.
Let’s delve into why this technology isn’t just an option, but a necessity.
Predictive Maintenance: A Crystal Ball for Your Generators
It’s not the unknown we should fear . . . It is being unprepared for the unknown that should be feared.
Traditional generator maintenance operates on a set schedule . . . but what if an impending failure arises between scheduled maintenance? Remote monitoring systems, with properly tuned critical alerts and data trends, function like a crystal ball. They can predict potential issues allowing you to act before the potential issue turns into a costly disaster. For instance, by monitoring; battery voltage, coolant temperature, and fuel level, you can mitigate the risk from three of the top six reasons a generator fails to start.
Cost Efficiency: More Than Just a Penny Saved
The operational cost of your business being down due to a power outage can be enormous. Add to this the lost revenue opportunity because you cannot make or sell anything! For these two reasons alone, it just makes sense to spend a few dollars on a remote monitoring system.
In addition to this, when considering the cost of remote monitoring system, it is important to take into account the cost of an emergency callout during a power outage. This callout can easily be upwards of $1000 to $2000 dollars depending on the generator issue. However, a remote monitoring system allows you to identify many of these issues before they become emergencies so they can be handled as regular maintenance items. Avoiding one emergency callout per year can easily pay for the cost of a remote monitoring system.
So it’s not just about pinching pennies. Resources must be allocated strategically to where they matter most!
The choice to implement remote monitoring for your generator moves you and your facility from uncertainty towards assurance and from reactivity to proactivity.
Remote monitoring is not just an upgrade . . . it’s an essential pivot towards operational excellence!
Don’t wait for the next power outage to reveal your back up power generator’s vulnerabilities. Assess your backup power setup and consider how remote monitoring can transform your approach. It’s time to move from playing catch-up to leading the way in operational efficiency and reliability.
For more insights on this transformative approach, contact Collicutt Energy at 888.682.6888. We have a team of experts that would be happy to work with you to evaluate your project and determine the best fit solution for you.
Remember, in the world of backup power, being proactive isn’t just a strategy; it’s a survival imperative.
On January 13th, I was sitting with my extended family watching the Hockey game. We celebrated every shot on goal for our team, and shrieked every time the other team almost scored. However, close to the end of the game the feed cut out and all of our phones in horrible harmony issued this obnoxious blaring noise: an Alberta Emergency Alert had been issued, because of a high risk of rotating blackouts.
Why did this alarm concern me?
This was deeply concerning! It was at least -30C and our house’s furnace was already struggling to keep up; we had an electric space heater in the living room helping keep that specific room warm for everyone.
Without power, we’d immediately lose our house lighting, the power to the space heater and potentially lose the power to our furnace ignition system. This would leave all 10 of us without any form of energy to stay warm.
What caused this grid alert?
Problem 1: High Grid Demand – As you can see in image 2, There was a significant increase in power consumption within the province: The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) reported an Alberta Interconnected Load (AIL) of 11,802 MW, up from ∼10,500 MW earlier that day. The primary reason for the high load was the extremely low temperatures we were experiencing in the province.
Image 2: Weekly Energy Summary posted on January 15th. Source (Linkedin). Graph shows how on January 13th, there was a marked uptick in power consumption around 6pm. At this time, power prices in the province shot up to the AESO price limit of $999/MWh, 10 times the 30-day rolling average at the time of $100/MWh.
Problem 2: Loss of Generation in the Province – The larger issue that led to the emergency alert was the lack of available power generation in the province. As shown in Image 3, there was a significant lack of both wind and solar at the time of alert.
Image 3: Alberta electricity production by type (Source: Alberta Energy). Generation by natural gas made up 81.7% of power generation at the time of the emergency alert. At the time of the alert, Solar and wind provided 100MW of the 6,131MW of installed power generation as reported on AESO Supply page.
How Collicutt Energy Helped Support Grid Reliability
At Collicutt Energy Services, our primary business is ensuring reliable power to your facility; whether this is through onsite natural gas generation or backup standby diesel power.
During this grid emergency event, many of our clients responded to an AESO directive to reduce their consumption. This is referred to as ‘Demand Response’. Over the last year, we have been helping clients prepare for events like this by getting their facility set up with backup generation that could, at a moment’s notice, provide relief to the grid.
Over the weekend of January 12-14th, our customers helped provide seven hours of grid relief; two and a half of those hours occurring on January 13th.
Why did our clients participate in Demand Response?
A natural question many people would ask is “Why would a large industrial customer participate in Demand Response? especially if it could impact the production of that company?”
Great question – other than being a great corporate citizen, they were compensated for it.
In 2022, the average customer who participated in Demand Response (Also formally referred to as Operating Reserve: Supplemental Reserves) earned between $200-250,000 for every Megawatt they were able to curtail. So for a facility that consistently consumed 2MW and participated in Demand Response, they could earn as much as $500,000 for reducing load for approximately 20-30 hrs of the year.
Can your facility participate in Demand Response?
With further deployment of renewables in Alberta and greater demand for electricity in the province, we are expecting more events like the grid emergency event of January 13th to happen in the future.
Can I enroll my facility in Demand Response?
Here are the eligibility criteria:
Are you consistently consuming 400kW or greater between 7 am and 11 pm?
Can you reduce your power consumption within a 10 minute period?
If your answer to the above questions is yes, then your facility is eligible. Reach out to us.
About the Author
Matthew Swinamer is a mechanical engineer with APEGA. In Matthew’s role as Technical Sales Engineer, he works to help commercial and industrial clients understand the power of onsite generation to reduce utility costs and increase sustainability of their energy consumption.
Reliable electricity is the lifeblood of our entire society! Without electricity, we would not be able to grow, transport, or store food; heat or cool our homes; transact business; secure our country, and the list goes on! However, the stability of the US electrical grid has become a growing concern. This has been highlighted by an increasing frequency of power outages caused by weather events, accidents, and natural disasters. These events highlight the urgent need for businesses to consider backup power generation as a crucial investment.
Fragility of the Electrical Grid
According to a recent paper written by Robert Bryce1, the US electric grid has a generation capacity of 1.25TW and is interconnected across the continent by:
6.1 million miles of wire, poles and transformers
12,538 utility scale power plants
9 federal power agencies
2,003 public utilities
315 power marketers
178 investor owned utilities
This ad hoc compilation of disparate parts and systems results in an extremely complex and potentially unstable system! The vulnerability challenges that the grid is facing can be categorized into a few main areas:
Complex interconnections – All of the different organizations involved in the regulation, power generation, transmission, and distribution of electric power create a myriad of single points of failure. These single points of failure may be minor but could cause a cascade of additional failures impacting a large geographical area.
Aging infrastructure – Much of the US power grid is outdated and in need of modernization. These aging components add to the risk and complexity identified in point (1) above.
Extreme weather – Weather events can cause outages due to loss of sub stations or powerplants, downed powerlines, etc.. Add to this grids that don’t have enough gas, hydro, or nuclear power generation to cover their demand when that demand is high and wind turbines or solar are not producing.
Overload – The pace of urbanization has outstripped the pace of new power generation capacity. This results in increased grid overload and eventually brownouts or blackouts.
Cybersecurity – Technology has advanced over the years and the threat of cyber attacks on our power grids is significant2, 4, 5. Although, there are many efforts underway to address this (reference this paper published in September 2021 “Cybersecurity in Power Grids”3) we still have a lot of work to do in this area.
Options for Backup Power Solutions for Your Business
The fragility of the US electrical grid system that is outlined above requires businesses to invest in backup power solutions that will keep them operational while the grid power is unavailable.
Every business is unique and the backup power solution for each business needs to be designed accordingly. Fortunately, there are many options and combinations of products available, including:
Diesel – A standby power generator that is only stated and run during a power outage. When using HVO fuel, these sorts of systems have reduced emissions significantly. See What is HVO and Why Should You Care for more details.
Battery – As battery technology is advancing, using batteries as part of your backup power is something that should be considered. They are particularly effective when you have a microgrid system that may need a method of storing extra power that cannot be used at the time it is generated.
Natural Gas or Biogas – Natural gas power generation is much cleaner than diesel6 so this may be a great option for your business. If you have a source of biogas then you may be able to use this directly or blend7 it with natural gas to create low cost fuel source to generate electricity.
CHP, Combined Heat and Power8 – CHP systems are typically a natural gas or biogas fueled generator that also capture the heat produced by the generator and use this energy to improve the overall efficiency of the system to greater than 90%. Colleges, schools, commercial buildings, hospitals, and casinos are some examples of where CHPs can be used effectively.
Microgrid9 – This is a localized group of electricity sources and loads that can operate independently of the traditional centralized power grid. A typical system would include power generation from solar, wind, batteries, and a natural gas or diesel power generator.
EaaS, Energy as a Service – This is typically supplied as part of a CHP or microgrid power system and consists of a natural gas or biogas fueled generator that is operated and maintained by a third party rather than by the business. See A Sustainable Solution for Uninterrupted Power for more details and advantages of an EaaS solution.
Take Action Today
Businesses cannot afford to overlook the fragility of the U.S. electrical grid. Power outages can have severe consequences for revenue, reputation, and operations. Investing in backup power generation solutions is not just a smart move, it’s a necessity to ensure business continuity, reliability, and peace of mind in the face of an unpredictable electrical grid.
Don’t wait until the next power outage . . . contact Collicutt now tollfree at 1.888.682.6888 and let us guide you to a solution that safeguards your business’s future.
In this article, we will discuss the benefits of fuel blending and provide insights from experts at Collicutt Energy Services on implementing this process in CHP systems. Fuel blending is a highly effective method for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, maintaining high generator output, and increasing overall efficiency in combined heat and power (CHP) generators.
How Fuel Blending Reduces GHG Emissions
Fuel blending offers a significant benefit: the reduction of GHG emissions.
Biogas, derived from organic matter decomposition, is a renewable energy source that is considered carbon neutral. When biogas is blended with natural gas, a fossil fuel, the overall carbon footprint of the fuel decreases. This is especially advantageous for organizations aiming to reduce their environmental impact and achieve sustainability goals.
Increasing Efficiency with Fuel Blending
In addition to emission reduction, fuel blending enhances the efficiency of CHP systems. Blending biogas with natural gas increases the energy content of the fuel, enabling more energy production per unit of fuel. This results in cost savings for organizations operating CHP systems, as they require less fuel to generate the same amount of energy.
To implement fuel blending in a CHP system, follow these key steps:
Step 1: Assess Biogas Availability
Identify biogas sources like landfills, wastewater treatment plants, or agricultural operations. Ensure the biogas meets quality requirements, free from contaminants that could damage CHP equipment.
Step 2: Install Necessary Equipment
Install a gas mixing unit and a gas meter to blend and measure the flow of biogas and natural gas. Additional controls and safety devices may be needed to ensure safe and efficient operation when using blended fuel.
Step 3: Collaborate with Experienced Professionals
Seek guidance from experienced professionals, like Collicutt Energy Services, who offer services such as feasibility assessment, equipment design and installation, and ongoing maintenance and support.
Fuel blending using natural gas and biogas is a valuable approach to reduce GHG emissions and enhance CHP system efficiency. By following the right process and collaborating with experts, such as Collicutt Energy Services, organizations can implement fuel blending with confidence, promoting environmental sustainability.
If you have a source of biogas and are interested in reducing your GHG emissions by using the biogas more effectively, give us a call at 888.682.6888
As the world seeks to transition to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources, the choice of fuel plays a crucial role in achieving these goals. Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) has emerged as a promising alternative to conventional diesel fuel. According to Neste Oil (1) it is “the highest quality diesel in the world.”
How is it Made?
HVO is created from a feedstock of various vegetable oils and animal fats. This feedstock is treated to remove impurities (moisture, particles, etc.). It is then mixed with hydrogen gas and fed through a hydrotreating reactor which creates the HVO fuel. It goes through some additional post-reactor purification steps to remove any remaining impurities like sulfur and nitrogen compounds. For more details you can refer to the Beginners Guide to Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil article here (4).
Why is it Important?
HVO is a “drop-in” ready fuel replacement for many diesel engines. This means that HVO can replace diesel fuel in a diesel engine without any modifications or adjustments to the diesel engine. All of mtu’s diesel engines used in their power generation equipment are HVO ready.
Advantages of HVO
It is a more stable fuel than diesel – Diesel fuel that is stored in a tank for any length of time (e.g., standby power generation) requires periodic fuel scrubbing to remove algae that grows in the fuel. HVO is not susceptible to this issue and remains stable over long periods of time.
Mixes seamlessly with diesel – HVO can be added to existing diesel so existing tanks do not have to be drained prior to topping up with HVO.
Lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – One of the significant advantages of HVO over diesel is its potential for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. HVO fuel has a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to conventional diesel. According to studies (2), HVO can achieve up to 90% CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) emissions reduction compared to diesel.
Improved air quality – Compared to diesel, HVO offers improved air quality due to its cleaner combustion properties. HVO fuel reduces emissions of harmful pollutants such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulfur oxides (SOx). Dependent on load profiles, a 50% to 80% reduction in particulate matter has been seen.
Improved performance – Switching from diesel to HVO can result in improved engine performance and decreased fuel consumption. In addition to this, when used with mtu diesel engines there is no engine derate (3).
If you need more convincing before you make this change, Rio Tinto has recently moved to HVO fuel for their large vehicles in their California open pit boron mine (6). Sinead Kaufman, Chief Executive Rio Tinto Minerals said: “We are proud that our U.S. Borax operations have become the first open pit mine to operate a fleet running entirely on renewable diesel. This is an excellent example of what happens when internal and external partners collaborate toward a carbon reduction goal. Support from the state of California has also been incredibly important, as without their vision, this would not have been possible.”
Take action now for your standby diesel generators and get improved performance, decreased fuel consumption, less emissions, and longer fuel life! Contact Collicutt today and we will work with you to evaluate your generator and arrange for HVO fuel delivery.
Almost everyone has heard of methane. It is one of the most sought after and utilized hydrocarbons on the planet. Its simple molecular structure, CH4, means that, when used responsibly, it can provide more power with less pollutants than many other fuels including coal, gasoline, and diesel.
Natural Gas (another name for Methane) is used in most homes for heating and is the primary energy source for power generation in many US States(1). Since 2005, the transition in many states from coal to Natural Gas power generation has seen a reduction in CO2 emissions by 42%.
With that being said, many states have come out against the use of Natural Gas, going as far as banning future Natural gas hookups, forcing builders to install electric boilers in lieu.
When we consider the vast amount of energy consumed from methane as a fuel, it is hard to imagine where an alternative source of energy will come from in a relatively short time frame. From this perspective, it is clear that the use of Methane is not going away any time soon; however, we need to be intentional about finding ways of using the fuel source in the most efficient and responsible manner.
Before we go any further, let’s understand a little more about methane: where it comes from, how it stacks up against other energy producing solutions, and how it can be put to use in an environmentally responsible way.
Where Does Methane Come From?
There are 5 main ways that methane is generated:
Methane Generation Type
This is methane produced by biological processes, primarily by methanogenic archaea.
Biogenic methane is the largest source of methane emissions globally.
Typically found in environments such as wetlands, marshes, rice paddies, and the digestive systems of animals.
This type of methane is formed by the thermal breakdown of organic matter under high temperature and pressure conditions.
Thermogenic methane is the primary component of natural gas.
Typically found in fossil fuel deposits such as coal, oil, and natural gas.
Methane can also be formed through non-biological processes. Abiotic methane is generated through chemical reactions, such as the interaction of water and rocks containing hydrocarbons under high temperatures and pressures. This process is known as abiogenic methane formation.
Methane can be released during volcanic eruptions as a result of the heating and degassing of organic matter, such as buried plant material, or the decomposition of organic compounds in magma or volcanic gases
Methanogenesis from CO2 and H2
Some micro-organisms known as methanogens are capable of producing methane by using carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H2) as substrates.
This process occurs in environments with low oxygen levels, such as peatlands, sediments, and the gastrointestinal tracts of animals.
Human activities contribute to methane emissions through various processes.
Examples include the production and transport of coal, oil, and natural gas, as well as the management of agricultural waste and landfills.
*Other than anthropogenic methane, all forms of methane production are naturally occurring.
When released into the environment, these naturally occurring forms of methane are considered a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) and can be 23 times more impactful toward climate change than Carbon Dioxide.
Before we explore the potential uses of methane, we need to define greenhouse gases (GHG) and why they need to be minimized.
What Are Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Pollutants?
A greenhouse gas pollutant is a gas that exists in the atmosphere that traps heat from the sun within the atmosphere and potentially contributes to the warming of our planet. Notable GHG pollutants include; carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases.
The current theories around the warming of our planet show that the temperature of the atmosphere increases as the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere increases.
Obviously, this is something that we want to avoid so we need to do all we can to reduce or eliminate as many man-made GHG emissions as is reasonably possible.
If the first step in this process is to understand what gases are GHG pollutants (which we identified above), the second step is to establish a comparison standard or a common language so we all understand what is being measured and its potential impact.
One of the current comparison standards for GHG pollutants is to convert them to kilograms of CO2 equivalent per 1000 BTUs of energy produced (e.g., kg CO2e/1000BTU). This measurement tells us the equivalent amount of CO2 created by generating 1000BTUs of energy using the fuel in question.
The chart below normalizes the GHG potential impact of various energy sources against the CO2e standard:
(See these notes for details on Solar (2) and Wind Turbine (3) numbers shown in the chart above).
Although it is not surprising to see that diesel, gas, vented or flared methane have higher GHG emissions than solar or wind, it may be surprising to some to see that methane fueled reciprocating engines have significantly less GHG emissions. In fact, methane fueled reciprocating engines are similar in emissions to solar PV and are less than a 1MW lithium-ion battery.
This is because solar, wind, and battery storage systems require large amounts of material and energy in their manufacturing and installation processes. In addition to this, we must consider that most microgrids require a battery system to store electricity. This means that a 1MW solar installation must include the battery and solar GHG emissions. So, for this example, the total GHG emissions would be 17+11.7 or 28.7 kg CO2e/1000 BTU which is more than double a Methane fueled reciprocating engine.
The Importance of Methane Capture
While methane emissions are a contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, these emissions can be significantly reduced by capturing and utilizing methane in a responsible manner. The “low-hanging” fruit for methane capture would be things like:
Eliminating methane venting and flaring from every oil and gas facility worldwide, onshore and offshore. North American European producers generally do a good job in this area so focusing on assisting other world areas with technology support and infrastructure upgrades would provide the biggest return on investment.
Implement biogas digesters and capture systems at all wastewater treatment facilities
Implement biogas digesters and capture systems for agricultural and livestock waste
Implement recovery of methane gas from all landfill sites
Capturing methane with techniques like this would go a long way to reducing methane emissions. The next step in this process is to determine how to use the methane to benefit humanity while minimizing the downside to our environment.
Reciprocating engines are commonly used in a variety of applications, including power generation, transportation, and industrial processes. These engines can run on a variety of fuels, including methane, propane, gasoline, and diesel.
When used with methane, reciprocating engines can provide significant environmental and economic benefits. Methane is a cleaner-burning fuel than propane, gasoline or diesel and when used in a reciprocating engine, results in lower greenhouse gas emissions and improved air quality (see list of GHG gases emitting power sources above).
These engines can produce electricity when they are coupled with an alternator and, if you add a heat recovery system to it, you can build a system that is close to 93% efficient (e.g., only loses 7% of the energy burned) while reducing emissions by over 300% compared to vented methane (e.g., allowing methane for wastewater plants to vent directly to the atmosphere).
The Future of Methane Fuel in Reciprocating Engines
While methane emissions are a contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, they can be significantly reduced through responsible management practices and, at the same time, used to generate cost-effective and reliable electrical power.
Strong regulations and policies are necessary to ensure that methane is managed responsibly, and advancements in technology are playing an important role in methane detection and measurement. As the world continues to transition to a low-carbon economy, the responsible management of methane emissions will be an important part of the solution to address global climate change.
In conclusion, using natural gas in reciprocating engines can provide significant environmental and economic benefits, but it requires responsible management practices, including methane capture. Methane capture allows methane emissions to be reduced and utilized as a fuel source, resulting in a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Advancements in technology are playing an important role in methane detection and measurement, and as the world continues to transition to a low-carbon economy, the responsible management of methane.
If you have any questions around this article or if you have a methane source that you would like to use to create electricity, give us a call at Collicutt at 888.682.6888.
Stranded gas is natural gas that is located in a remote location where there is no existing infrastructure to transport the gas to a market. In many cases, stranded gas is either vented or flared, which is not only wasteful but also harmful to the environment (methane is one of the most potent GHGs with a global warming potential that is estimated to be more than 20 times greater than that of carbon dioxide over a 100-year time horizon).
One potential solution to this problem is to use the stranded gas to create electrical power. This is done by using the natural gas as the fuel for a reciprocating engine-based generator. The electricity produced can then be fed into the power grid or it could be consumed locally.
With stranded gas, it is quite probable that the site is remote enough that it is not economical to get the electricity to the grid. Therefore, the electricity needs to be consumed locally.
There are probably infinite number of uses for locally generated power (e.g., power the oilfield equipment running the site, power a greenhouse, power an industrial site, powering a car charging station, etc.) but one of the solutions that Collicutt has developed recently centers around cryptocurrency mining.
Cryptocurrency mining uses a lot of electrical power and it usually gets this power from the local electrical grid. This can be challenging for a few major reasons:
Grid power can be very costly for the mining companies
It can add “unnecessary” load to the power grid which may be straining to fulfill demand (depending on the location and time of the year)
The grid power may be relying on fossil fuels like coal to create their power which only exacerbates GHG emissions and other pollutants
Working with a few of our customers, Collicutt has developed a power generation solution for crypto mining companies. As part of this process, we:
Determine the electrical load requirements for the crypto mining operation
Evaluate the gas composition of the stranded gas
Design a custom tuned reciprocating engine and generator based on these parameters
Containerize the solution to protect it from the elements and from vandalization
Provide a remote monitoring solution so the system can be monitored via the web
Provide lifecycle maintenance and support for the system
The resulting solutions provide a more economical power source for crypto mining enterprises that concurrently reduce greenhouse gas emissions from methane, reduce GHG and other pollutants from grid power, and reduce overall grid power requirements.
If you and your team are looking to either more effectively use your stranded natural gas or for a more economical and environmentally friendly power source for your crypto mining system, this approach may offer a viable solution.
For more information on this or any other power generation solution, contact us via email or at the number below:
The transition to green power sources such as solar and wind energy is becoming increasingly important as the world works to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate the impacts of climate change. However, the integration of green power into microgrids, can be challenging. In this article, we will discuss some of the challenges of green power and why traditional power generators are still required to ensure a stable microgrid solution.
Challenge #1: Intermittency
Green power can’t always guarantee continuous power. For example, solar and wind power, are dependent on weather conditions, and their output can fluctuate greatly. This can make it difficult to predict and match the power demand of the microgrid, leading to power outages and a lack of reliability.
One of the ways to overcome this challenge is through energy storage solutions such as batteries. Batteries can store excess energy when it is available and release it when it is needed. However, this brings its own set of challenges. Current energy storage technologies are still relatively expensive, and the cost of energy storage is still a barrier to adoption.
Challenge #2: Low-Capacity Factor
The capacity factor is a measure of how much of a power plant’s potential power generation is actually used. For example, a power plant with a capacity factor of 50% means that it is only generating power for half of the time. Green power sources such as solar and wind have relatively low-capacity factors because they rely on weather conditions, which can greatly affect their output. This can make it difficult to depend on green power as the primary source of energy in a microgrid. With this, additional traditional power generators are required to ensure a stable microgrid solution.
Challenge #3: Cost
The cost of green power, particularly wind and solar, has been decreasing significantly in recent years, however, it is still more expensive than traditional power generation for two reasons:
Low capacity factor: E.g. a 5MW solar farm may have a capacity factor 30-40%, meaning 60-70% of the time, the plant may be generating little to no power.
There needs to be a backup power, or energy storage, solution for the low capacity hours increasing the overall cost of green power.
The microgrid design needs to be optimized to balance the green power supply with traditional power supply while keeping the overall cost as low as possible. The cost-effectiveness of a microgrid will depend on the specific conditions and requirements of the microgrid, and it is important to work with experts to evaluate the various options and find the most cost-effective solution.
Overcoming These Challenges
To overcome these challenges and ensure a stable microgrid solution, traditional power generators such as natural gas and diesel generators can be used to supplement the power generated by green power sources. These traditional power generators can provide a reliable and consistent source of power, which can help balance out the fluctuations in power output from green power sources. Additionally, these traditional generators are usually able to respond quickly to changes in power demand and can act as a backup power source if the green power sources are not able to meet the demand. These traditional sources of power can also be used to reduce a company’s environmental impact if fuel blending with biogas is used for the natural gas generator or HVO is used for the diesel generator.
Biogas and Fuel Blending
One of the main benefits of fuel blending is that it allows for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Biogas, which is produced from the decomposition of organic matter, is a renewable source of energy that is considered to be carbon neutral. When it is blended with natural gas, which is a fossil fuel, the overall carbon footprint of the fuel is reduced. This can be particularly beneficial for organizations that are looking to reduce their environmental impact and meet sustainability goals.
HVO, or Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil
This is a renewable diesel fuel that offers a number of benefits when compared to traditional diesel fuel. It is made from biomass sources such as vegetable oils and animal fats, and can be used in any diesel engine without modification. HVO produces significantly less emissions than diesel fuel, including fewer greenhouse gases and particulate matter. Additionally, it has a higher cetane number than regular diesel, resulting in improved engine performance and fuel economy. It also has a lower sulfur content which is a beneficial for maintenance of vehicles. Overall, using HVO as a diesel fuel alternative can lead to a more sustainable and efficient transportation system.
While green power sources offer some environmental benefits, their integration into microgrids can be challenging due to their intermittency and low capacity factor. Traditional power generators, such as natural gas and diesel generators, may still be required to ensure a stable microgrid solution. However, cost needs to be carefully considered when integrating the two sources together. Traditional power generators can provide a reliable and consistent source of power, which can help to balance out the fluctuations in power output from green power sources. As previously mentioned, it’s important for organizations to work with experts to evaluate the options and find the most cost-effective and stable microgrid solution.
A microgrid is a localized group of electricity sources and loads that can operate independently of the traditional centralized power grid. They can include a variety of different power sources and can even integrate renewable energy resources into the grid.
Some of these power sources include:
Hydrogen powered generators
Microgrids are becoming increasingly popular as they offer several benefits.
Increased energy efficiency
Improved reliability (removing yourself from inherently unstable and expensive utility power grid)
Reduced carbon footprint
Because of the complexity of managing all of the power sources on the microgrid and ensuring they work seamlessly, one of the key elements of a microgrid is its control system. This control system is responsible for managing the flow of electricity between different generation sources and loads.
Once of the most widely used control systems for microgrids is the microgrid controller (MGC). This is a specialized computer system that monitors and controls the microgrid’s operations. The MGC uses advanced algorithms and control strategies to optimize the performance of the microgrid. It also ensures that it meets the energy needs of the loads while also providing grid support services.
Collicutt Energy Services (Collicutt), is a leading provider of microgrid control solutions that leverage the advanced MTU Onsite Energy products. Our microgrid control solutions are designed to provide our customer with a high level of control, flexibility and reliability. Our team of experts uses state-of-the-art technology and advanced algorithms to optimize the performance of the microgrid to ensure that it meets the energy needs of the loads, while also providing grid support services.
One of the key advantages of our microgrid control solutions is that they are based on the MTU Onsite Energy products, which are known for their reliability, efficiency, and flexibility. MTU Onsite Energy products are designed to meet the highest standards of performance and are certified for use in a wide range of applications.
In addition to microgrid control, Collicutt also offers a wide range of services to support our customers including sales, services, parts and rentals. Our knowledgeable and experienced team is available to assist you in every step of your microgrid project, from concept to commissioning and beyond.
A microgrid control system solution is a critical component of a microgrid system and Collicutt provides reliable, efficient and flexible microgrid control solutions using MTU Onsite Energy products. Our solutions are designed to provide high level of control and flexibility which enables the microgrid to optimize its performance and provide grid support services. Our team is always available to assist in every step.
Want to learn more? Read about some of the challenges of green microgrids here.
Red Deer Polytechnic is a post-secondary institution located in Red Deer, Alberta that has been in operation since 1964.
Red Deer Polytechnic installed a 1MW CHP to reduce their utility costs, while reducing their carbon footprint as well.
Combined heat and power (CHP) is the simultaneous generation of power and heat from a single fuel source, allowing system efficiencies of up to 93%.
Company Name: Red Deer Polytechnic
Building Type: Post-Secondary Institution
Location: Red Deer, Alberta
Power System Installed: 1MW CHP System
Collicutt Energy was hired to design and build the 1MW CHP system that was then installed in the building in 2018.
This unit helps lower the institution’s utility costs. Thermal energy is captured from the engine jacket water and the engine exhaust.
The unit produces 1,007kW of electricity and as much as 1,054kW of thermal energy. When all heat is consumed the grid intensity of power generated is 0.24kg/kWh, 55% less than current average Alberta grid intensity.
The system size was determined based on the baseline electrical and thermal load.
This ensured that all the electricity and as much of the heat produced would be effectively utilized by the building.
Once Collicutt completed the engineering and design, the CHP system was manufactured at Collicutt’s 80,000ft2 facility in Red Deer.
A walk-in style enclosure was selected allowing routine maintenance and inspection to be conducted comfortably even in outside conditions as low as -40⁰C.
The plant has been running for 3 years and just recently had a top end overhaul completed.
Check out another case study about how we helped a recreation center lower the building’s carbon footprint HERE.