With the high demand of connectivity and dependability in our 24/7/365 world, combined with an intense focus on being ‘green’, customers are demanding more from their standby power solutions:
• Extended run-times during crisis situations
• Reliability and minimal maintenance
• Environmentally-responsible backup power options
An obvious solution is a natural gas generator or natural gas MPS generator. These units rely on fuel supply that has a proven underground infrastructure providing exceptional stability and extended runtimes. In addition, natural gas has a much smaller carbon footprint versus diesel fuel.
The industrial/commercial marketplace has leaned towards diesel generators for some time as they have been the “go to” choice since the inception of standby power. As a result, some find diesel generators to be the comfortable choice. Yet, Generac created options, and engineers began to switch. “The difference we are starting to see is due to the new complexities caused by low-sulfur diesel fuel. Customers must constantly tend to the fuel and care for it—much like a pampered pet. As a result, many engineers and contractors are starting to specify natural gas generators,” said Daniel Barbersek, Director of Industrial Sales at Generac Power Systems.
Ability to Operate During Weather Events and Other Crisis Situations
Severe weather conditions do not typically impact the supply of natural gas fuel due to underground pipelines. So, continuous operation of natural gas generators is largely assured.
On the other hand, diesel generators need constant re-fueling during crisis situations to provide extended runtimes. “And, if history is any predictor, delivery of diesel fuel becomes increasingly more difficult in the wake of a disaster,” said Barbersek. For example, during Hurricane Sandy, more than 2 million New Jersey customers lost power due to diesel fuel shortages.
“In addition, during a crisis, many diesel fuel delivery companies don’t consider generator customers a high priority which tends to slow down emergency fuel deliveries,” Barbersek said.
Reliability and Minimal Maintenance
Gaseous gensets receive a continuous fuel supply from the natural gas infrastructure ensuring reliability, and minimal maintenance.
With diesel generators, emissions rules now require the use of low sulfur diesel fuel which makes it more difficult to sustain a high-quality fuel supply. “In the past, diesel fuel was more stable and required less care. With the new fuel, customers are learning that the maintenance is much more complex, and unfortunately, many of them are learning this lesson the hard way,” Barbersek explains.
Ambient temperatures can cause condensation in fuel tanks, which can lead to microbiological contamination that causes corrosion, filter plugging, and operational issues. “If this contaminated fuel is used during an emergency, it could clog filters and injectors resulting in overheating which will shut down the engine or may even lead to failure. This leaves the customer without a standby power source and no quick or easy remedy,” explained Barbersek. As a result, low sulfur diesel gas needs to be re-conditioned or polished every 12-16 months to ensure impurities don’t impact fuel flow.
There are other situations that can increase the likelihood of engine failure:
• Running prolonged periods of time on a tank of diesel fuel —When a fuel tank is drained or lowered, this creates a denser environment for any of the contaminants already located within the fuel. This fuel—which is now more contaminated—has a greater chance of causing engine issues.
• Refueling—Refueling an empty or low-fuel tank can create a high risk of fuel contamination because the incoming (new) fuel pours into the bottom of the tank, which stirs the contaminants that have settled to the bottom of the tank. These now unsettled contaminants intermix into the fuel and can be drawn up into the diesel fuel system. To avoid this, a settle time of at least 4-to-6 hours should be observed.
Environmental Responsibility: Smaller Carbon Footprint
Natural gas is one of the cleanest fossil fuels to use. Emissions of sulfur, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) are considerably lower compared to diesel fuel.
Diesel engines also emit more nitrogen oxide and particulate matter than similar spark-ignited units, which has led to increased scrutiny from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Intense emission level regulations and aggressive tier changes from the EPA could eventually result in diesel engines being taxed at a greater rate due to their higher carbon dioxide emissions.
In addition, the high level of emissions produced by diesel gensets may increase the difficulty in procuring an air-quality permit. Obtaining an air-quality permit for natural gas units is easier because they produce fewer harmful emissions. For companies that emphasize a core value of “being green”, natural gas is the best fuel choice in most situations.
Benefits of Natural Gas
While change tends to come slowly in any industry, the technologically advanced gaseous-fueled generators from Generac are becoming more attractive for standby applications. They are:
• More reliable
• More cost-effective
• More environmentally-responsible
For more information about Generac’s natural gas generators solutions, please contact your local Generac Industrial Power Network distributor/dealer, call 1-844-ASK-GNRC or email ASKGNRC@generac.com.