Selecting the Optimum Generator Set Solution is Critical

The current power constraints facing South Africa and Africa have resulted in companies being requested to cut their power consumption by at least 10% in order to alleviate the pressure on the overburdened transmission and distribution infrastructure. This appeal will, of necessity, result in companies seeking alternative power sources to accommodate the energy requirements shortfall.

However, cautions Craig Bouwer, sales engineer at Zest WEG Group’s Generator Set Division, there is an apparent lack of understanding of the many issues surrounding standby power. “Companies are generally unaware of how to assess the standby power requirements of a facility or building. By implication, this suggests that companies are also often unaware of what the optimal solution for a given application should be.”

A standby power solution is an important capex decision that needs to be considered carefully in terms of the company’s overall requirements. Moreover, the supplier needs to have the necessary technical expertise and relevant experience to offer a customised solution. A key consideration for a standby power solution is to understand the environment in which the generator set has to function.

Original equipment manufacturer Zest WEG Group’s Generator Set Division has a dedicated facility in Cape Town and offers generator sets ranging from 20 kVA units up to 250 kVA off-the-shelf products, 300 kVA to 2 000 kVA individual customised units as well as multiple sets to achieve turnkey solutions in excess of 12 MVA for large-scale applications or projects. The company has supplied a large number of bespoke generator set solutions based on the specific application and environment in which they operate.

“A couple of recent examples include the containerised three-generator unit we designed and manufactured for DRA Minerals’ Liqhobong Diamond Mine in Lesotho and a turnkey power station for AVI Group’s Indigo Brands. At Liqhobong, we designed a generator set container with a collapsible snow roof. When the roof is collapsed it facilitates easy transportation and once deployed on site prevents the build-up of snow on top of the container, and the subsequent blocking of the louvres,” says Bradley van der Spreng, project engineer, Zest WEG Group’s Generator Set Division.

The scope of supply on the Indigo Brands project comprises three 1 000 kVA generator sets and three 1 000 kVA transformers. “What makes this project unique is that Zest WEG Group’s Generator Set Division is designing a custom built distribution system and electrical panel for synchronisation. The company is also supplying a 23 000 litre bulk fuel storage system to support this installation” adds van der Spreng.

The successful implementation of these projects hinges on the company’s ability to determine potential solutions for the customer. Amongst these are consideration for sound restructuring methods, fuel systems, electrical reticulation and interfacing, the load and the duration that this load is required to be powered.

“The type of load and the total power drawn should be measured by a qualified team from the generator supplier prior to recommending a particular diesel generator set. Following this, accurate load calculations can be carried out and a suitable system recommended. We look at the entire electrical infrastructure and not just the generator set itself. In this way we are able to recommend the power rating of the generator set,” says Bouwer.

Another area where Zest WEG Group’s Generator Set Division’s experience comes to the fore is its knowledge of local regulations pertaining to different metropolitan areas. Regulations also differ with regard to the particulate levels of diesel fuel storage and sound decibel levels related to noise attenuation. In order to disseminate relevant and important information, we form close working relationships with consultants and, wherever possible, we become involved during the design stage of a project,” says van der Spreng.

All equipment supplied by Zest WEG Group’s Generator Set Division is standard with a 12 month warranty. The Group has a dedicated service department, which offers basic maintenance contracts that include measures such as replacing the generator sets’ oil and filters. Extended or long term maintenance contracts are also offered where the equipment is for critical applications such as standby power at a hospital.

Bouwer cautions that, while maintenance is critical, companies should take ownership of their generator sets. “We propose to mitigate risk and that a dedicated member of the customer’s staff be trained through our manufacture, test, installation and commissioning process. This enables the customer to be more self sufficient and compliments all aspects of aftermarket support.

“There are numerous factors to consider when selecting an appropriate fit for purpose solution so it important for companies to align themselves with a supplier who is qualified to discuss all eventualities. Flexibility in approach to design and engineering will ensure that the installation is geared towards minimising the capital cost and running expenses, whilst concurrently optimising energy output for an uninterrupted and reliable power supply,” van der Spreng concludes.

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