Sunday, November 20, 2016

How Can Rental Power Plants Support the Predicted Growth in Electricity Demand?

We now live in a world where virtually everything requires energy, and where a momentary interruption in its supply can throw economies and societies into disarray. And as the world will need more of energy, industry stakeholders should, therefore, keep a close watch on its efficient production and utilization to ensure that it will be sufficient for the coming generations.  


Experts predict that global energy demand will continue to grow through 2050. In a recent article, McKinsey and Company, a global research and information firm, revealed that the global requirement for energy will grow by an average of 0.7 percent a year through 2050. This growth rate is notably lower than the current two percent, owing to digitization, slower population and economic growth, greater efficiency, the decline in demand in Europe and North America, and the global economic shift toward services, which use less energy than the production of goods. Despite this decline, it cannot be ignored that there is still a critical need to meet the future demand if the world is to have a continuous and reliable supply of energy.


Electricity will account for a quarter of all energy demand by 2050. McKinsey predicts that more than 75 percent of new electricity capacity will come from wind and solar. Thus, wind and solar power generation are expected to grow four or five times faster than every other source of electrical power.

As a global temporary power solutions provider, we see this as a welcome development in increasing the availability of electricity in areas that require it, and in diversifying the energy mix to encourage long-term energy security.


Multi-megawatt temporary power technologies are primed to work in tandem with renewable energy sources to help surmount issues of power supply unpredictability and intermittency, especially in power-intensive industries like oil & gas, construction, and utility power generation, transmission and distribution.

Temporary power plants can also provide supplemental power to renewable energy facilities during planning, manufacturing, installation, commissioning, operations and maintenance. Temporary power plants can help ensure that renewable energy plants are constructed and delivered on time and as planned, and that they remain efficient, reliable and in optimum condition at all times.


As a global player in the rental power industry, we recognize the ever-important role that electricity plays in the promotion of progress and development in countries around the world. As such, we continuously work on innovating and engineering power generation systems that efficiently responds to the energy needs of the times. For more information on rental power plants and how it can help power your industry, please visit http://www.altaaqaglobal.com

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How Can Rental Power Help Grow Mining Operations?

The mining industry has played an integral part in the history and progress of countries and communities where it exists. Many mines sites, however, are in remote locations, where power infrastructure may not exist or are still developing, or where a reliable connection to national grids can still be improved. This poses a challenge to mine operations, established and developing alike, particularly in light of the fact that without access to a sufficient or reliable source of electricity, mining companies run the risk of losing on profit, valuable production time or opportunities for growth.


Temporary power and the Mining industry

It is most advantageous to specify temporary power during the pre-feasibility/feasibility stage of mining operations, when mining companies are applying for finance. This could help them secure financing for the project.

Temporary power solutions can support the growth phase of mine operations, because they provide flexibility, scalability, risk mitigation and cost minimization. Specifying the services of temporary power providers during this stage will preclude the need for mining companies to spend scarce CAPEX in procuring their own generators or building permanent power facilities. With temporary power, mines can opt to start small, then add power capacity as their operations grow. They can pay for the rented electricity from their operational profits.


As mine operations develop and become established, mining companies will eventually find benefit in building their own permanent power plants, which, however, may take a substantial amount of time to complete. While the permanent power plants are being constructed, temporary power can sustain the mine operations. As soon as the permanent facilities are constructed and fully operational, mining companies can simply end the contract, and the temporary power plants will be immediately demobilized. This way, mining companies will not have surplus equipment, because everything was only rented.

Temporary power solutions are also beneficial for ongoing mine operations, in times of power shortage or emergency situations. When mine operations need additional power to sustain production, temporary power providers can easily deploy and install temporary power plants at their sites in a matter of days to supply continuous and reliable electricity.


As commodity prices remain depressed, and full economic recovery continues to be elusive for developed and emerging countries alike, mining companies are in the midst of challenging times. In these times, mining companies cannot afford to subject their operations at risk, owing to lack of funds or long project lead times. Renting power does not require spending scarce CAPEX that is usually related to building permanent power plants. Temporary power plants can also be tailored to any power or voltage, so there is no longer a need to build support power infrastructure to run the rental plants. Additionally, installing temporary power plants will only take days, whereas constructing a permanent power infrastructure may span longer periods of time. This means that in a short time, mine operations can be up and running, and producing.

Hiring electricity can prove advantageous for both established and nascent mine operators. It can provide operational flexibility, enhance a site’s productivity and help optimize its processes without the need for a long lead time and a sizeable capital expenditure. As mining companies realize the benefits of hiring power, it will no longer be uncommon in the coming years to see larger temporary power plants being hired on a longer-term basis within the mining industry.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

How Much Do You Know About Renting Electricity?

You know that you can rent a car, a flat, or even songs and movies. But, have you heard about renting power?

Renting affords numerous advantages, particularly to transient users, or those that use a particular item for a limited period of time. Think about renting flats, cars, movies or costumes. When you don’t see yourself living in a city for a long period of time, will you still invest in buying a home? When you expect to sparingly use a car, will you still spend on acquiring one and shell out for servicing and maintenance throughout its lifetime? For someone who simply likes to watch a new movie and does not fancy collecting films, will it make more sense to rent it than to actually buy a copy of it? Would you like to wear that Dracula costume every year to a Halloween party? I guess not.

There are many things that you can rent, but have you any idea about renting electricity? Yes, electricity can be rented, and it is a viable solution to energize numerous communities around the world that still lack access to reliable electricity. So, how does that work?


Basically, when a power utility company, a manufacturing firm, a mine operator or a government chooses to rent electricity, what they actually get is a complete, temporary power plant, designed, tailored, delivered, installed, operated, managed and serviced by a temporary power provider. All the equipment are owned by the provider, and the customer does not have to nvest in anything related to capital. Similar to renting any other item, the customer only has to pay for the product or service while he is using it – or in this case, for the electricity generated during the contract. This means that the customer can simply pay for the services of the rental power provider from his OPEX or operational expenditure.


Rental power plants are unlike permanent power plants. They are made up of modular power equipment, generators, transformers and other ancillaries, and can be simply connected “plug-and-play”-style. Because of this, they can be easily delivered from and to anywhere in the world, and can be made operational within days. Customers need not wait for years or decades obtaining approvals, financing and waiting for the completion of construction. Remember when you rented a car? The car was ready and was immediately handed over to you, right? And when you rented a flat? Did you have to wait for years for the building to be built before you could move in? No. Upon making the first tranche of payment, the keys to the unit were readily given to you.


When the need for supplemental electricity passes, a rental power plant can be simply uninstalled and demobilized, of course, by the temporary power provider. This means that there will be no permanent infrastructure left behind that will need constant maintenance and servicing. Simply put, the utility provider, the mining company, the manufacturing firm or the government stops spending when the need for supplemental electricity is no longer there.

To summarize, here is an illustration of what is involved in renting electricity:


We said above that renting electricity is a perfect option for energizing communities around the world that still do not enjoy the benefits of reliable electricity. Turning to temporary power solutions is a fast, efficient, safe and cost-effective way to gain access to consistent electricity. As governments, utility providers and allied stakeholders implement long-term energy plans, temporary power plants, working alone or in tandem with other sources of electrical power, can urgently provide the required electricity anywhere and anytime it is needed. 

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Pros and Cons of Different Fuel Options for Power Plants

In our previous article, we discussed lifecycle costs associated with the operation and maintenance of power plants, be they temporary or permanent. We said that though fuel represented the highest lifecycle cost, it was also the easiest to predict and calculate. In this article, we will look into some of the fuel options available for power plants, and identify some of their advantages and disadvantages.

Different fuel options are important in designing systems that respond to individual energy needs, budget concerns and fuel availability. Each fuel type has its benefits and drawbacks, so it is essential to take some time and research on the best fuel option during the system design process. Some fuel options available include natural gas, diesel, HFO and renewable fuels, such as vegetable oils, animal fats, and bio-diesel.


Natural gas is gaining ground as a cost-effective fuel solution, because it burns cleaner, and lengthens maintenance intervals and component lifetimes. There are multi-megawatt temporary power plants composed of natural gas generators that are designed for low-emission operation and fast set-up. Running on natural gas, these generators comply with worldwide emission limits even without after-treatment. Some observed disadvantages of natural gas are its limited availability and high costs of installing safe and reliable fuel delivery infrastructure. These, however, are gradually being solved owing to the increasing availability of gas and the opportunities in bigger and longer-duration projects opening up for gas power plants.


Diesel’s trump card has always been its availability, safety and economy, and ease of installation of power generation systems running on diesel. Diesel power generation systems are known to be reliable and flexible and are equipped with state-of-the-art technologies that allow them to run on a variety of fuels. Some noted disadvantages of using diesel as a fuel are the observed fluctuation of its price and environmental stewardship issues. The good news is that with cutting-edge power technologies made available by global temporary power providers, these observed issues can be mitigated.


Heavy fuel oil or HFO is available worldwide and engines running on this fuel are relatively common, but HFO has been observed to contain contaminants that increase component wear. Recognizing this, temporary power plant providers are making sure that they have intermediate systems that refine the fuel, reducing the contaminants and further enhancing the quality of the fuel. When choosing a power partner to run an HFO power plant, it is vital to make sure that the provider has these technologies available in order to lower the chances of reduced component life and higher maintenance costs.

Dual-fuel engines are another option to be considered. Though these engines are observed to have higher initial costs compared to single-fuel engines, they have the capability to provide the high-level of fuel flexibility that operators specifically require. Global temporary power providers can offer bi-fuel technologies that are specifically engineered to reduce fuel costs. For instance, there is a technologically advanced power system that uses a combination of 70% gas and 30% diesel, which will have a positive impact not only on fuel costs but also on emissions.


Alternative, reliable fuel options like vegetable oils, animal fats, and bio-diesel can also be utilized, but these require fuel treatment equipment. It may be helpful to note that the additional equipment may increase the initial capital costs and maintenance costs.

Different fuels have characteristics that influence their applicability. Depending on the location, budget, energy requirements or available technology, one fuel may be preferred over another. Experts say that it is still best to go with the clean fuel option, as this will result in longer component life and less performance degradation. But, thanks to the cutting-edge auxiliary technologies introduced in today’s power generation technologies, even the less clean fuels become viable options in specific situations.

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Reference:
Steffens, David. “Lifecycle Cost Considerations when Choosing a Power Generation System”. Caterpillar Power Generation Systems. February 2013.


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Monday, October 31, 2016

The Importance of Scheduled Maintenance Planning in Ensuring the Efficiency of Power Plants

In our previous article, we spoke about lifecycle costs to consider when choosing a power generation system, like temporary power plants. We said that the costs include fuel, maintenance, and labor, among others. In line with our previous discussions, in this article, we’ll take a closer look at the importance of scheduled maintenance planning in ensuring the efficiency of a power plant.

Scheduled maintenance planning is a vital part of a preventive strategy that allows engineers and power plant operators to effectively plan for repairs, maintenance costs, and system downtime. A proper maintenance program should identify maximum run hours for each component in the power plant system, and also consider maintenance intervals, required spare parts, manpower, routine analysis and inspection details.


Now, let us throw the spotlight on maintenance intervals.

Maintenance intervals are the time periods between system inspection or overhauls and should be scheduled in parallel with the component run hour lifetime and operating requirements. As some engine and auxiliary parts, like fuel injection nozzles, piston rings, and bearings, are designed to be wear components, they should be regularly checked and replaced. The schedule can vary from power plant to power plant, especially if a condition-based maintenance program is utilized. Bear in mind that under condition-based maintenance program, wear components are only replaced if wear limits are exceeded or if the components exceed other replacement criteria previously set. Thus, when following a condition-based maintenance program, the lifetime of components is adjusted in consideration of operating parameters and data harvested from regular inspections.

As part of a predictive maintenance program, engineers and power plant operators should assess the component wear as observed during regular scheduled inspections. They should also record operating data on a regular basis and trend data points to provide a clear picture of any necessary adjustments in order to maximize power plant efficiency and help foresee any possible failures. If this is successfully done, this can help power plant operators mitigate the risk of unscheduled outages.

One can never overstate the importance of electricity in our world today. In almost everything that we do, we require electricity, so a constant and reliable supply of power is non-negotiable. It is, therefore, paramount for a power services provider to have an effective and well-planned preventive maintenance strategy to preclude the occurrence of unplanned power outages and ensure the efficient and cost-effective operation of a power plant.

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Reference:
Steffens, David. “Lifecycle Cost Considerations when Choosing a Power Generation System”. Caterpillar Power Generation Systems. February 2013.


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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Some Insights on Lifecycle Costs Related to Power Generation Systems

One cannot overstate the importance of electricity in people’s lives today. We all rely on electricity for a wide range of reasons, and we expect nothing but an uninterrupted supply of electricity that meets our power requirements. Thus, power utility providers strive to produce electricity not only consistently, but also efficiently in order to provide the most cost-effective solutions to their customers.

Even as power plants, temporary or permanent, differ according to several factors, they all need to be designed, operated and maintained properly, because even a minute irregularity in their operation will result in a dramatic change in their overall output. Poor power output, then, leads to lower efficiency, which in turn, brings higher lifecycle costs.


A close look at lifecycle costs

Any costs related to the operation and maintenance of the power plant during its lifetime are included in the lifecycle costs. Part of this are expenses related to fuel, scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, labor, and lubricant oil, among others. It is advisable to have a thorough upfront planning for the aforementioned costs in order to effectively mitigate the risk of the occurrence of any unplanned costs.

Several factors contribute to the lifecycle costs of a power generation system. Costs, like operation- and maintenance-related expenses, can be anticipated and, thus, must be taken into consideration at the nascent stages of the project. On the other hand, unanticipated costs are harder to predict, so proper planning is required to minimize their impact. Having a proper preventive maintenance program, conducting regular emergency training and setting solid contingency plans are vital to preparing for both anticipated and unanticipated costs of power generation systems.

Fuel Costs

Experts agree that even as fuel constitutes the highest lifecycle cost, it is the easiest to foresee and calculate. Fuel costs are related to the specific fuel oil consumption (SFOC) at different loads, the operating profile of the plant and the fuel price. Other factors that affect fuel costs include efficiency degradation and the wearing of engine components.


Maintenance Costs

Another important lifecycle cost is maintenance. It is helpful to note that some engine and auxiliary equipment parts, like fuel injection nozzles, piston rings, and bearings, are designed to be wear components. Thus, they need to be replaced based on the standard component life or, in some cases, if wear limits have already been exceeded. Therefore, close monitoring of such components is vital, because when a component’s useful life has been reached, the risk of system failure notably increases.

Equipment operators and maintenance specialists have to be aware of notorious contributors to premature component wear, which include dirty lubricant oil or fuel of inferior quality. In this light, it is important to have a proper predictive maintenance program to early detect problems.


Labor

Labor is another lifecycle cost to be considered. Labor costs vary according to local labor rates and regulations, operation profile, plant availability requirements and required skill level. Whoever is in-charge of plant staffing should take these factors in consideration in preparing a manpower strategy. Experts suggest that the planning team should keep abreast of current local standards and practices to correctly forecast labor costs.


While some costs are inevitable over the course of a power generation system’s lifecycle, an efficient predictive and preventive maintenance program is key to reducing unnecessary costs. But lower costs is not the only benefit of properly planned and implemented maintenance programs: They can also reduce the risk of a major system failure while increasing system efficiency. As the experts say, the goal of a power plant operator is simple: Operate effectively for as long as possible while reducing costs and maximizing profit over the duration of the power generation system’s lifecycle.

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Reference:
Steffens, David. “Lifecycle Cost Considerations when Choosing a Power Generation System”. Caterpillar Power Generation Systems. February 2013.


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Saturday, October 22, 2016

How Caterpillar is Capturing the Imagination of its Customers

What do Snapchat and Caterpillar have in common? You could argue that both have unmistakably established their brand with that familiar yellow. However, one particular trait the social media phenomenon and the heavy equipment manufacturer share may not be as obvious: their unique uses of Augmented Reality to enhance and ultimately transform a user’s experience.

In simple terms, AR allows virtual objects to appear in front of you, as though they are in the real world. So, what’s the benefit for Caterpillar?

This technology is being deployed as a new way for operators to receive and communicate critical information and standardize complex processes through the use of sensory inputs such as sound, video and graphics.

While wearing a pair of AR glasses, job site information delivered becomes interactive and able to be digitally manipulated by an operator.
“Just think about sitting in your car, and no longer having a physical dashboard. Then, when you put on the AR glasses, all of that information – dashboard gauges, radio, switches, etc. – appears along with the ability to interact with it,” says Lonny Johnson, a senior engineer at Caterpillar.

By superimposing the right information in the right place at the right time, Caterpillar can simplify the overall electrical complexity of a machine’s cab. AR glasses also allow the operator to customize his or her machine interface.

For less experienced operators, a pictorial map can be especially helpful. “It allows operators to experiment with radically different interfaces, and receive guiding commands about those interfaces,” Johnson said.

By investing in this technology, Caterpillar is able to reduce costs, increase efficiency and enhance job site experiences.

“Caterpillar embraces parts, pieces, and products that are part of 21st-century life. In doing so, we are no longer confined to the area of the display,” Johnson said.  

Whether you are using Cat® yellow iron to move dirt, or just snapping yourself next to it, AR technology is dramatically changing the landscape of its respective industries.

*The article was originally published in Caterpillar's website: http://www.caterpillar.com/en/company/chi/ciw-ar-cab.html?utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=CaterpillarInc&utm_term=sf50356728&utm_medium=social&utm_content=innovation_Customer/Dealer/Product&sf50356728=1

For more information on temporary and rental power technologies: http://www.altaaqaglobal.com

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