On-site, standby and emergency power generators have been a crucial part of the electricity mix dating back to the 19th century.
They now serve as indispensable backup for microgrids, hospitals, military bases, police stations and, now more than ever, data centers. They are moving more into the decentralized energy landscape as reciprocating engines offer load following abilities and burn cleaner than coal-fired power plants.
In addition, they are stepping up their presence at POWERGEN International this November in New Orleans. The Electrical Generating Systems Association (EGSA) is hosting the On-site Power Pavilion on the PGI exhibition floor.
The tagline for this year’s EGSA pavillon is “Reciprocating Engines for a Reliable Microgrid.” Always part of the backup power market, the gensets are taking on a growing role in distributed energy, and many are shifting from diesel to natural gas and upping their power density while improving emissions.
“In the past, EGSA, including the Power Pavilion, devoted little energy and resources to outreach in the distribution energy arena. For a long time, this was quite justified because the market didn’t live up to the hype in the late 90s,” said Dennis Roundtree, of Colorado-based Onsite Power Inc. and past president of EGSA.
“However, if you are following the news you know that distributed energy is back, in a different context,” Roundtree added. “It’s also a fact that the major manufacturers in our industry are all turning up their focus on natural gas—and the fact that (distributed generation) and microgrids are back on the utility radar has not escaped their attention.”
EGSA has more than 750 member companies, including manufacturers, distributors-dealers, contractors, integrators, engineers, service firms and end users. On-site power equipment used by these members include generators, engines, switchgear, controls, voltage regulators and more.
Microgrids are going major all over the grid in various countries, thanks to advancements in technology and reduction in costs for renewable energy and battery storage. The sector could reach 200 microgrids totaling close to 10 GW in the coming decade.
Important and growing markets, indeed, but not all the customers that EGSA members serve.
“This doesn’t mean we abandon standby power,” Roundtree was quick to add.
Of course, every critical system needs backup and regenerative power for when the storms come. EGSA and the POWERGEN On-site Power Pavilion will highlight reciprocating engine and generator sets’ contribution to ensuring that reliability.
In addition to the EGSA companies showing their wares on the PGI exhibit floor, the On-site Power Pavilion will be backed up by a content program including the On-site Power summit sessions upstairs at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and on the floor in the Decentralized Energy Knowledge Hub.
On Monday, Nov. 18, the POWERGEN University will also feature more in-depth instruction on key aspects of on-site power.
The global generator set market is poised to surpass $34 billion by 2024, according to a 2018 report by Global Market Insights. The accelerating occurrences of weather-related disasters and potential power outages once again has pushed the need for backup power to the forefront.
POWERGEN International is November 18-21 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.
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(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering and POWERGEN International. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and firstname.lastname@example.org).