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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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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Reliability in Power

Reliability in Power

This is the Fifth episode in this series called ‘Understanding Power’.

This episode’s topic is all about understanding the cost of your utility bills.

This video and blog covers two topics

  1. Reliability in Power
  2. Reliability in Transmission

Relability in Power Generation

on January 13, the Alberta Electrical System Operator (AESO) released two notices, each more serious than the other: The grid was at risk of having province wide blackouts. What caused this? Well, it was two-fold:

  • High Demand: because it was winter and it was extremely cold  (-30C), there was a lot of extra load. In fact, Alberta hit an all time high record that week.
  • Limited Power Generation: Alberta has a large percentage of wind power capacity(shown in pie chart on left below) but the thermal gradients that create wind are limited in very cold weather meaning there was very little wind power being generated (shown in pie chart on right below)

this created the perfect storm where we had an elevated load and an undersupplied grid almost resulted in calamity.

Ensuring Sufficient Power Generation

It is probably very clear that a territory needs to ensure that there is more power generation capacity than there is load, what may not be as straight forward is how the different types of power generation operate throughout the day and respond to load variability.

above is a fictitious example of a typical 24 hour day within an example jurisdiction.  What this chart is aiming to show is how throughout an average day, most grids see dramatic load change with two main spikes: the first in the morning as people get up and get ready for work, and the second at nighttime when people leave work and start cooking.

Our grid power generation mix is made up of 3 main groups: (Get more information on power generation technologies)

  • Baseline power: Power generation capacity that cannot easily be ramped up or ramped down. 
  • Variable Power: Power generation systems that produce power when available such as solar (during sunlight hours) and wind (when the wind blows)
  • ‘Agile’ Power: Power generation systems that can easily be ramped up or ramped down to allow for overall grid load response. 

In the chart shown above, you can see how the baseline power (Nuclear, Hydro and Large thermal) remain relatively consistent throughout the day. Additionally, you will notice how solar comes on during sunlight hours. Though wind appears to be consistent, Wind power is a function of wind and can be unreliable as seen above. Finally you can see how the major load variability is responded to by small and responsive thermal plants which operate using engines and aero derivative turbines. The benefit of these types of systems are that they can be easily turned on, ramped up and then turned off as necessary.

This mix of generation capabilities allows the grid to quickly respond to load changes ensuring reliability of power supply.

Reliability in Transmission

The second part of this topic is about reliability in the transmission systems we employ to transmit power from the point of generation to the eventual location of where the load is, whether that is our house or a facility.

It is straight forward to understand that we need to have adequate power generation for the load of our grid at any given time; but equally, we need to ensure that this transportation infrastructure can supply the amount of power to the locations required. The major portion of our system is the transmission lines, whether that’s the transmission portion, or the distribution portion, the power lines play a huge role in the reliability of our power system.

Transmission Reliability Problem 1: Capacity Overload:

The first thing we need to make sure is that we are never in a scenario where our load exceeds the capacity of our transmission lines. In scenarios where the load of the system exceeds the capacity of the power lines or transformers, we end up in scenario where we will have system wide power failure. Want more information how the transmission system works?

Transmission Reliability Problem 2:

Powerline obstruction

The second scenario that we see a lot with power lines is power lines are highly susceptible to weather: They’re above ground, easily exposed to flying debris, for example, in hurricanes, and also susceptible to easily sparking fires and we’re seeing this happen quite a bit in California these days.

 

 

 

In 2019 act, we actually saw a utility actively choose to turn off their high voltage power lines, because of fears that their lines would cause fires and that resulted in massive power outages and failures within the the Northern California region.

How can we increase reliability in transmission?

 Well, one of the ways that a utility can increase the reliability of the grid, is by generating power closer to the load, and ont he distribution side of the transmission system. This is called distributed generation. By moving the generation closer, the likelihood of line failure between generation and load has been dramatically reduced.

Onsite Power Generation

So let’s say you lose power at your facility and there is no distributed power generation or in fact, the power outage is right outside of your building, how are you going to ensure that you have reliability? this is where standby generation or on site power generation support power reliability.

Below is an example of a backup diesel generator installed at a hospital to provide backup power in the case of grid power failure. Want more information? 

 

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Siemens SGE-100EM 2MW Engine

 

 

 

 

 

“The best-in-class solution with the best-in-class cycle time”

  • Robust, compact design provides more relief for long-lasting performance
  • Spark-ignited lean-burn unit ensures low emissions
  • Innovative pre-combustion chambers provide efficient and stable combustion
  • 12 unique high-volume cylinders deliver highest displacement
  • Less maintenance compared to 16-cylinder engine options
  • Fast cycle times and implementation
  • Smallest footprint in the competitive set

 

 

“Highest electrical efficiency in the 2 MW-class”

Before the EM series, when it came to 2 MW-class engines, your options were limited. Now, there’s a powerful new choice available:

the new SGE-EM gas engines from Siemens

The result of years of development, testing, refinement, and innovative engineering, they deliver a number of benefits that make them a true competitive choice.

Uncompromising performance to meet ever-growing demands

Economic pressures. Customer demands. Reliability concerns. Regulatory standards. In the world of power generation, you face plenty of challenges. If you want to successfully overcome them, you need to have the best solution in place. The new SGE-EM gas engines are your best solution.

 

 

“Innovative engine design and combustion technology”

 

Siemens is known for innovation, and the new E-Series engines carry that torch of ingenuity with a unique cylinder design that produces the highest displacement in the 2 MW-class, innovative pre-combustion chambers, spark-ignited lean-burn control capabilities, and a robust overall design that ensures maximum flexibility in a wide variety of conditions.

  • Natural gas–powered engines
  • Efficient and stable Combustion
  • Exceptional Displacemen
  • Low maintenance
  • Optimized materials

Maximum efficiencies in the smallest footprint.

The new E-Series engines are not only the new competitive choice in the 2 MW-class, they’re also the most compact. Their unique ability to deliver high power output with incredibly low emissions helps you create a smaller footprint—both physical and environmental.

 

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S1:E3 – Remote Power

Problem 3: Remote power

We are continuing in our series on three main problems with the way we do power

This is part three: remote power

Did you know that in Canada 200,000 people are disconnected from the electrical grid and natural gas distribution system? 

Because of the remoteness of these locations, power can cost as much as $1/kWh

Additionally, most of this power generation is powered by diesel which produces carbon intensive power.

Communities aren’t limited simply to the north but are anywhere where geography or high CAPEX to install infrastructure prevents simple and easy connection.

What are ways that Collicutt can help promote communities and operations combat these problems?

Collicutt is champion a technology called Combined Heat and Power which uses clean and cheap liquefied natural gas to generate power and heat at remote locations.

By swapping out diesel for LNG, the cost of fuel can be reduced dramatically and the overall carbon output per unit of energy can be dropped swiftly.

In communities where logistics is complicated and diesel generation is the only option, Collicutt has designed and installed diesel powered CHP facilities where the heat can be effectively recovered from the engine and can offset other fuels required to provide heating: whether that is propane or heating oil.#CollicuttEnergy #PowerGeneration 

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Grid Limitations

Grid Limitations

Series: Three Main Problems With the Way We Do Power

We’re continuing in our power generation series. And today we’re talking about Problem #2, which is ‘Grid limitations’.

So what are some of the limitations of our power grid system? And how does that affect us?

The first problem is, is that it’s expensive.

Most people pay actually 50% of their utility bill is actually the cost of just getting power to your facility. And the other half is actually the cost of the energy.

The second problem is delayed access.

A lot of times we’ll have projects where we want to increase our capacity at our facility, or we want to create a new location where we need power, and there just isn’t grid access or there isn’t the capacity. This has the ability to delay projects, or significantly limit their size.

And the third issue is unreliability.

This issue is super relevant to California these days. As as we move into the dry season and there’s concerns of fires, and we see those rolling blackouts again: Power reliability is a huge issue and it’s going to cause issues around power shortages, power outages and facility shutdowns.

So what are some of the ways that Collicutt can help you with some of these limitations?

Using a technology called Combined Heat and Power, or CHP, we’re able to generate both electricity and heat onsite using a single fuel source while achieving fuel efficiencies of 93%.

Combined Heat and Power

And one of the reasons why this is so much more efficient than what currently we’re using the grid is that we’re actually getting rid of a lot of the waste along the way. We’re getting rid of that that lost heat at the point of generation, and we’re able to achieve as high as 93% overall fuel efficiency.

So Why CHP? (3 Reasons)

First reason: Cost Savings

CHO can save you significant amounts of money by generating power on site, especially when you look at the rates that we’re paying here in California. In California, we’re paying about 26 cents ($0.26/kWh) in total: 13 cents of that is the cost of transmission and the other 13 cents is the energy cost.

With CHP, you can generate power for as little as 7-9c/kWh, saving 2c/kWh in heat (fuel) costs:

Combined Heat and Power can save your money

Combined Heat and Power is an effective way of generating power and heat onsite while incurring great savings. Additionally, by having generation capabilities on site, your power reliability is increased

Second Reason: Sustainability.

in Alberta, we can save as much as 3000 tons of CO2 output per year for every megawatt of CHP installed. Why is that? Because power here in Alberta is predominantly generated by coal. And by by using clean fuel source like natural gas, salvaging the heat, offsetting the fuel source that would have provided that heat in the facility, we can get that down to a 0.2-0.25 tonnes/MWh.

Lower your facility’s environmental output

 

Let’s look in California. Even in California, where we have incredibly clean power, You can actually see a 14% reduction in CO2 output by using CHP.

Third Reason: Reliability.

By having on-site power generation capacity, the power reliability at the facility is dramatically increased.

 

Conclusion:

So, cost effective, reliable, sustainable. CHP is a great application for a lot of these problems relating to the grid limitations.

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