mtu Kinetic Power Packs

Unleashing the Power of Kinetic Power Packs (KPPs): A Closer Look at Innovative Energy Solutions

In the realm of uninterrupted power supply solutions, the mtu Kinetic PowerPack emerges as a beacon of innovation and reliability. As a distributor for mtu, Collicutt Energy brings forward a dynamic and uninterruptible electrical power solution that redefines the standards of power conditioning and efficiency.

Engineering Excellence in Power Supply

The mtu Kinetic PowerPack is engineered with precision to cater to specific power, footprint, and sustainability needs of businesses across various industries. Unlike traditional static UPS systems, this dynamic UPS technology leverages kinetic energy through a diesel engine coupled to a kinetic energy accumulator via an electromagnetic clutch. See this article for more information on how KPPs work.

Unraveling the Benefits

1. Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): The mtu Kinetic PowerPacks prove to be more cost-effective, reducing consumable electricity costs and maintenance expenses significantly.

2. Smaller Footprint: With a compact design and reduced component count, the mtu Kinetic PowerPacks occupy only 40% of the space compared to equivalently rated static UPS systems. This not only saves on building construction costs but also optimizes space for revenue-generating purposes.

3. Scalable Solutions: The versatility of the mtu Kinetic PowerPacks allows for scalability, enabling businesses to adapt to evolving power requirements seamlessly.

4. Optimal Sustainability: By eliminating the need for heavy batteries and minimizing chemical waste generation, the mtu Kinetic PowerPacks uphold sustainability standards while delivering reliable power supply.

5. Enhanced Reliability: The lower component count in the mtu Kinetic PowerPacks translates to higher reliability and resilience, ensuring uninterrupted operations even in challenging environments.

Versatility Across Industries

The mtu Kinetic PowerPacks finds application across a spectrum of industries, including:

  • Data Centers: Ensuring uninterrupted power supply critical for data integrity and operational continuity.
  • Critical Process Manufacturing: Mitigating risks associated with power supply interruptions in manufacturing processes.
  • Infrastructure: Supporting vital services such as transportation, communication, and governance with resilient power solutions.
  • Healthcare: Providing life-saving power support to medical facilities for uninterrupted patient care.

Experience the mtu Kinetic PowerPack

Explore the benefits of kinetic energy and unlock a world of efficiency, reliability, and sustainability in power supply.

For detailed specifications and configurations, contact Collicutt Energy to discover how the mtu Kinetic PowerPack can transform your power infrastructure.

At Collicutt Energy, we empower businesses with solutions that drive progress and resilience. Join us in embracing the future of power supply with the mtu Kinetic PowerPack.

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Don’t Get Left in the Dark: Revolutionize Your Backup Power with Remote Monitoring

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!

Take Action

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.

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Navigating the Evolving Landscape of Emergency Power Codes: Insights and Expert Guidance

In the intricate world of building codes and standards, staying ahead is not just a matter of compliance, it’s a commitment to safety and foresight. If you’ve had the task of interpreting code and standards, you know that it can be quite the rabbit hole!  We’re approaching the enforcement of the National Building Code of Canada 2023, set to take effect on May 1st, 2024, and it’s imperative to understand some complexities and implications, particularly when it comes to emergency electrical power supplies in buildings.

 

The realm of building codes is in constant flux, a reality that professionals in the industry face daily. Keeping up-to-date of the myriad of codes, revisions, and standata is a never-ending challenge. The National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) 2023  is no different.

 

The 2023 edition of the NBCC – Alberta Edition continues to specify CSA C282-15 as the mandatory standard for emergency power systems in buildings and CSA Z32-15 for those in healthcare facilities, as cited in Table 1.3.1.2. This is despite the availability of updated versions of these standards, CSA C282-19 and CSA Z32-19, which were published in 2019.

 

CSA Z32 essentially defers to CSA C282 for all requirements concerning emergency generators; hence, we will focus exclusively on CSA C282 in the remainder of this article.

 

What is CSA C282?

 

This Standard applies to the design, installation, operation, maintenance, and testing of emergency generators and associated equipment for providing an emergency electrical power supply to electrical loads

 

  • in buildings and facilities when the normal power supply fails and an emergency electrical power supply is required by the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC); and
  • of essential electrical systems, where emergency generators are intended for use in health care facilities (HCFs) in accordance with Clause 6 of CSA Z32.

 

It’s important to recognize that the revised CSA C282-19 standard brings some updates over the former CSA C282-15. While not compulsory under the new building code, these revisions merit consideration for their potential to bolster the safety, effectiveness, and longevity of your emergency power infrastructure.

 

Choosing to implement the latest standards, even when not explicitly required, is a proactive step towards ensuring additional safety and future-proofing your project. It’s an acknowledgment that while compliance is non-negotiable, excellence is a choice.

 

At Collicutt Energy Services, we understand the intricacies of these codes and the significance of staying ahead. Our expertise isn’t just in delivering cutting-edge emergency power solutions; it’s in guiding you through the complex landscape of standards and regulations.  We are here to ensure that your projects not only meet the current codes, but are also future-proofed, providing safety, reliability, and peace of mind.

 

Connect with us today to future-proof your project and redefine the benchmarks of safety and excellence in your emergency power systems.

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The Role of AESO and the Operating Reserve Program

Harnessing Alberta’s Energy Future: The Role of AESO and the Operating Reserve Program

Alberta’s electricity market is a dynamic landscape that requires balancing supply and demand with precision and foresight. At the heart of this system is the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO), a not-for-profit entity mandated to operate an open and competitive wholesale market, ensure the safe and reliable operation of the electric system, and plan and develop the transmission system to provide access to customers​​.

 

Among many tools in the AESO’s “toolbelt” is the procurement of Operating Reserves (OR). This is a crucial mechanism that helps to maintain system reliability when there is an unexpected imbalance between supply and demand due to various system conditions.

 

In the AESO’s Operating Reserve (OR) framework, supplemental reserves are a critical component, providing a safety net for the electrical grid when demand outstrips supply or generation unexpectedly falls. Unlike regulating reserves which respond instantaneously, supplemental reserves can be activated swiftly—within a 10-minute window—enabling the system to recover from sudden imbalances. For instance, a backup generator system, whether newly installed or pre-existing, can be a perfect solution to supply such supplemental reserves. When the grid requires additional power, these generators can ramp up, and allow a facility transfer their electrical load to the generator(s) thereby curtailing or removing load from the grid.

 

One very recent example that I’m sure all Albertans remember, is the Emergency Alert issued on January 13th during a serious cold snap of -40°C. Operating Reserve was a crucial tool for keeping Alberta from power outages, and Voltus played a key role by dispatching their supplemental reserve portfolio.

 

 

Participating in the OR market not only contributes to the stability of Alberta’s power grid but also represents a strategic business opportunity to create an additional revenue stream. Through our partnership with Voltus, Collicutt Energy Services is positioned to make participation in the OR program simple and easy.

 

We invite you to be part of Alberta’s energy resilience story.

 

Visit our Webpage to discover how we can energize your business with a WIN-WIN through Alberta’s Operating Reserve program and Voltus.

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Alberta Emergency Alert Jaunary 13th, 2024

How Demand Response Supports Grid Reliability

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 ProvinceThe 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.

 

FAQ

  • 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:

  1. Are you consistently consuming 400kW or greater between 7 am and 11 pm?
  2. 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.
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Powerlines and Backup Power Generation

The Importance of Backup Power Generation: Safeguarding Your Business Amidst the Fragile US Electrical Grid

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
  • 856 coops
  • 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

 

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Why Every Microgrid Should Contain a Natural Gas Generator: A Sustainable Solution for Uninterrupted Power Supply

Why Every Microgrid Should Contain a Natural Gas Generator: A Sustainable Solution for Uninterrupted Power Supply

 

A microgrid is a localized group of electricity sources and loads that can operate independently of the traditional centralized power grid. Microgrids can include a variety of different power sources including renewable energy resources.

 

Typically, a microgrid consists of several essential components some of which are listed below:

 

  • Energy generation resources like; solar panels, wind turbines, fuel cells, D-UPS, diesel generator, or natural gas generators.

 

  • An battery energy storage system, BESS, to store excess energy and provide power when the solar and wind cannot.

 

  • A load (typically the group of electricity consumers on the microgrid).

 

  • A microgrid controller that controls and optimizes the generation, consumption, and storage of energy.

 

  • A controller and switching system that enables the microgrid to switch between operating in utility-connected or island mode.

 

  • An advanced communication system that enables the coordination and optimization of the microgrid’s elements.

 

 

Microgrids offer many benefits, particularly for businesses and institutions. We have listed five below but there are many more depending on the unique site situation:

 

  • Resilience and Reliability: Microgrids can operate in island mode during a grid outage, providing uninterrupted power supply which means uninterrupted business operation.

 

  • Energy Efficiency: By generating power close to the source of consumption, microgrids reduce transmission losses.

 

  • Cost Savings: Microgrids can provide 100% of the power required for your facilities or they can leverage peak shaving and load shifting strategies to lower energy costs (or a combination of these solutions). Some microgrids can also produce power to the utility grid and become revenue generators.

 

  • Environmental Sustainability: By incorporating renewable energy sources, microgrids reduce greenhouse gas emissions (especially if the utility power uses a combination of coal fired power generation). This plays in big role in a business as they drive towards their net-zero or carbon-neutral goals.

 

  • Energy Security: Microgrids reduce dependence on the national grid, enhancing energy security.

 

Despite the promise of renewable energy sources like solar and wind, their intermittency and low capacity factor (1) makes it difficult to rely on them exclusively for a consistent power supply. This is where natural gas generators become invaluable. A natural gas genset can be brought online by the microgrid controller to provide power when renewable resources are not available, such as when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. See MIT Energy Initiative’s study; “The Future of Natural Gas” (2) for more details.

 

Comparing natural gas generators to traditional diesel generators, natural gas has several advantages:

 

  1. Lower Emissions: Although emissions vary greatly between manufacturer and generator size, natural gas generators produce fewer emissions than diesel, including lower CO2, NOx, VOC, and particulate matter emissions (3), which makes them a cleaner alternative (International Energy Agency, 2021 (4)).
  2. Cost-Effectiveness: Natural gas is more cost effective than diesel, resulting in lower operating costs.
  3. Reliability: Natural gas supply is usually more reliable than diesel especially in urban areas with established natural gas infrastructure. Diesel tanks need to be filled while methane is “unlimited” via a natural gas pipeline.

 

Regardless of the technology chosen for your microgrid, there is a capital cost required to get a system designed, installed, commissioned, and started up. Many companies simply don’t have the capital sitting around for this type of investment and continue to rely on unreliable and expensive grid power. However, this is where Energy as a Service can play a role in getting your microgrid system in place and removing your reliance on the traditional power grid.

 

EaaS – Energy as a Service

 

Energy as a Service is essentially the supply of key components of a microgrid system on a lease type arrangement or power purchase agreement. This allows customers to avoid the upfront capital cost of purchasing these key components.

 

The key components of EaaS that Collicutt Energy is able to provide include;

  • Microgrid controllers
  • BESS systems
  • Gas generators
  • Biogas generators
  • Gas blending systems
  • D-UPS units
  • Diesel generators (for black start)

 

Summing Things Up

 

In conclusion, the integration of natural gas generators in a microgrid design is a practical, sustainable, and economical solution for ensuring uninterrupted power supply. As businesses and institutions continue to strive for resilience, efficiency, and sustainability, the microgrid—with natural gas as a key component—presents an effective pathway to achieve these objectives.

 

If you have any questions regarding this article or if you have a microgrid or power project of any kind give us a call at 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.

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A CASE FOR METHANE FUELED ELECTRICAL POWER GENERATION: PART 4 – POWER DENSITY

Why Power Density Makes Natural Gas Essential for Every Microgrid

 

Defining Power Density

 

Power density, typically measured in Watts per kilogram (W/kg), refers to the power created per unit of material required to produce that power. It provides a metric for assessing the resource intensity of various power generation methods.

 

Essentially, a high W/kg rating means that the power generating device creates more power per kilogram. A low W/kg rating means that it takes more material (e.g., cost and complexity) to create a Watt of power.

 

Comparing Power Densities of Various Energy Sources

 

The following chart is a screen shot from the International Energy Agency (1) and it illustrates the vast difference between the mass of material required to produce a unit of power for various energy sources. This chart is shown in kg/MW to illustrate the amount of specialty materials required to generate a MW of power.

If we take the inverse of these numbers, we get the power density graph that is shown below in W/kg.

As you can see, natural gas power generation has the highest power density of the six power sources shown. In fact, it has approximately 5.5 times more power density than solar PV and approximately 13 times more power density as offshore wind power!

 

Besides taking less mass to produce a unit of power, natural gas power generators have a smaller footprint, can be placed almost anywhere in a microgrid system, and can be designed to have a relatively fast ramp up time.

 

From the above, it’s evident that while renewables like solar and wind may be important for a sustainable future, their lower power densities mean they require more substantial physical footprints to match the output of fossil fuels. This is where the strategic use of natural gas can provide a balance.

 

Why Power Density Matters for Microgrids

 

Microgrids, especially those serving urban areas or critical facilities, often don’t have the luxury of vast expanses of space. Thus, power density becomes a critical consideration. Natural gas generators, with their high power density, can deliver significant power from a compact infrastructure, making them especially suited for space-constrained microgrids.

 

Moreover, natural gas generators can efficiently address the intermittency of renewables. On days when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing, the high power density of natural gas can ensure that the microgrid’s energy demand is met.

 

Conclusion

 

Power density is a pivotal metric when planning a microgrid’s energy mix. While renewable energy sources bring benefits, their lower power densities necessitate complementary power sources with a compact footprint and high output. Natural gas generators fit this bill perfectly, making them indispensable for microgrids aiming for resilience, efficiency, and sustainability.

 

If you have any questions regarding this article or if you have a microgrid or power project of any kind that could benefit from a methane powered generator, give us a call at Collicutt Energy at 888.682.6888. We have a team of experts that will work with you to evaluate your project and determine the best fit solution for you.

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Flexibility of Methane-Fueled Power Generation

A CASE FOR METHANE FUELED ELECTRICAL POWER GENERATION: PART 3 – FLEXIBILITY

Flexibility of Methane-Fueled Power Generation

 

Selecting an energy source for electricity generation requires careful consideration of various factors including flexibility of the fuel source. Although this is far from an exhaustive list, flexibility factors have to include things like; ease of access, affordability, safety, and transportability. These factors are described in more detail below.

 

Ease of Access

 

There are two main components of ease of access that we will cover here:

  • Availability:

    • Methane is a prolific fuel used all over the world for heating, transport, and power generation. As with any fossil fuel, the source is not infinite, but many estimates suggest there is at least 52 years or more left of fossil-based methane (1).

 

    • Hydrogen does not exist naturally in nature like hydrocarbons or coal so it must be manufactured. Hydrogen can be produced in a number of ways (e.g., electrolysis, coal gasification, biomass gasification, hydrocarbon processing, etc. (4)) but it is a manufactured gas that “takes energy to produce energy” (6) (7). The energy required to produce hydrogen means that it costs more to produce (see notes below on affordability). It is also complicated to produce, store, and transport so it has been slow to become adopted as a mainstream fuel.

 

  • Existing Infrastructure:

    • There is already a well-established infrastructure for methane extraction, storage, transportation, and distribution in North America and most of Europe. Natural gas pipelines, refinement, and storage facilities are abundant, allowing for reliable and widespread access.
    • There is little to no infrastructure existing in the world today for hydrogen gas supply to the everyday consumer. For example, there are approximately 1.5 billion cars on the earth today (2) and only 11,200 of those are hydrogen powered (3). The infrastructure that is in place is not built for hydrogen and will take significant investment to allow for that fuel changeover. This is reinforced by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory website (8) which states; “Hydrogen has very high energy for its weight, but very low energy for its volume, so new technology is needed to store and transport it.” Building out an infrastructure that will support the use of hydrogen as a consumer fuel is just getting started (5) and will probably take decades to achieve.

 

Affordability

 

Because methane is an abundant fuel, it is generally affordable in the western world. Pricing and availability can be impacted by weather or geopolitical events but methane is typically an affordable fuel even if it is transported long distances including via ocean transport (see below for more details).

 

Conversely, as mentioned above, hydrogen does not exist naturally in nature, so it must be manufactured. This manufacturing process takes energy and creates green house gas emissions. As per the National Renewable Energy Laboratory website (8); “Most hydrogen production today is by steam reforming natural gas. But natural gas is already a good fuel and one that is rapidly becoming scarcer and more expensive. It is also a fossil fuel, so the carbon dioxide released in the reformation process adds to the greenhouse effect.” New and more effective ways of hydrogen production are underway but this will take time before it is an affordable fuel.

 

Safety

 

There are inherent dangers with the use of any fuel. For example, there is a risk, albeit small, that your gasoline tank on your car may explode in an accident, or that your electric car battery may ignite due to a battery fault, or that a natural gas pipeline may be ruptured by a backhoe. However, each of these “fuel systems” have had many years of refinement and have built in safety designs that now result in extremely safe use of these fuels with very few incidents.

 

Conversely, there is very little history yet with hydrogen fuel in the marketplace. As per the above quote taken from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, ” . . . new technology is needed to store and transport it. And fuel cell technology is still in early development, needing improvements in efficiency and durability.” The technology development is underway but it will take time to implement it and refine it to the level of safety currently seen with methane.

 

Transportability

 

When it comes to transportability, the infrastructure in the western world for methane is well established with well sites, hydrocarbon processing facilities, pipelines, LNG facilities, etc.

This infrastructure does not yet exist for hydrogen and is still in its infancy. As we can see below, the inherent properties of hydrogen impose some transportation limitations and inefficiencies that add cost and complexity.

In comparing ship-based methane transport to ship based hydrogen transport, hydrogen takes 2.5 times the tanker space to transport the equivalent energy value (in this case 1 TWh). In addition to this, hydrogen boils off at a rate of 1% per day during transport while methane boil off rate is one-tenth of that.

Diagram from Michael Sura depicting the difference in hydrogen vs methane boil off rate.

Diagram from Michael Sura depicting the difference in hydrogen vs methane boil off rate.

 

Similarly, ground transport challenges for hydrogen transport are illustrated in the following diagrams (again sourced from Michael Sura (9).

 

Diagram illustrating the challenges of ground transport of hydrogen..

Conclusion

 

After careful examination of the flexibility of methane as a fuel source compared against hydrogen, it seems that methane comes out ahead in each of the categories that were examined:

  • Ease of access
  • Affordability
  • Safety
  • Transportability

 

In conclusion, when the flexibility of methane as a fuel is factored into a decision matrix along with EROEI conclusions from Part 2 of this series and the GHG emissions conclusions from Part 1 of this series, one must seriously consider the responsible use of methane as a fuel for electric power generation.

 

If you have any questions regarding this article or if you have a microgrid or power project of any kind that could benefit from a methane powered generator, give us a call at Collicutt Energy at 888.682.6888. We have a team of experts that will work with you to evaluate your project and determine the best fit solution for you.

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A blog post image that talks about the case for methane fueled electrical power generation

A CASE FOR METHANE FUELED ELECTRICAL POWER GENERATION: PART 2 – All ENERGY TAKES ENERGY TO PRODUCE ENERGY!

In Part 1 of this series we discussed greenhouse gas emissions, how they are applicable to methane and other energy sources including solar PV and batteries, and why the responsible use of methane must be considered as a viable energy source for the production of electricity.

In Part 2 of this series we will focus on the energy required to create energy.

All Energy Takes Energy to Create Energy!

As we strive for a sustainable and efficient energy future, the choice of fuel source becomes crucial. One component of the equation that must be considered as we plan our energy future is Energy Return On Energy Invested or EROEI.

EROEI assesses how much energy is obtained from an energy source relative to the energy invested in extracting, refining, and using that source. It provides insights into the energy profitability and effectiveness of a particular energy system.

The calculation of EROEI involves considering all the energy inputs throughout the lifecycle of an energy source, including exploration, extraction, transportation, refining, and operation. This encompasses both direct energy inputs, such as fuel used for extraction, and indirect energy inputs, such as the energy used in manufacturing and maintenance of equipment.

A higher EROEI indicates a more energy-efficient and sustainable energy source, as it signifies that more usable energy is obtained compared to the energy invested. Conversely, a lower EROEI suggests that the energy source requires a significant amount of energy input relative to the energy it generates.

EROEI is a valuable tool for assessing the viability, economic feasibility, and environmental impact of different energy sources. It helps inform decision-making processes regarding energy investments, resource management, and the transition to more sustainable energy systems.

As you can imagine, the EROEI varies greatly per power source. The following chart shows average EROEI multiples for various fuels (data from ARC Financial Research (2) – Peter Terzakian “The End of Energy Obesity” (1))

Conclusion

This chart clearly illustrates that methane has a very high return on energy invested compared to energy sources like solar PV or biodiesel. In fact, methane has about three times the return on energy invested than a source like solar PV. This is a significant difference considering the abundance of methane in North America and the well-established methane distribution methods that exist (e.g., pipelines, LNG, CNG, etc.).

When this EROEI is factored into a decision matrix along with the GHG emissions conclusions from Part 1 of this series, one must seriously consider the responsible use of methane as a fuel for energy generation.

If you have any questions regarding this article or if you have a microgrid or power project of any kind that could benefit from a methane powered generator, give us a call at Collicutt at 888.682.6888. We have a team of experts that will work with you to evaluate your project and determine the best fit solution for you.

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