Market intelligence from MarketsandMarkets suggests that the global market for diesel generator is due to grow substantially in the coming years, reaching USD 23.4 billion by 2029. Paul Brickman, Commercial Director at Crestchic Loadbanks, reflects on the growing market, and what it means for power resilience.  

Why is the market for diesel generators growing?  

Diesel generators are known for being robust and reliable. They can provide fast access to backup power during power outages, making them a solid choice for applications where power is mission-critical, such as hospitals, data centres, and telecommunications.  

They can be used in a variety of settings, including remote locations where access to the power grid is limited or non-existent. In regions such as the Asia-Pacific and Africa, for example, their use is being fuelled by rapid industrialisation and urbanisation. This ability to provide off-grid power, and the availability of diesel fuel in areas where other power sources may be scarce, also makes them ideal for temporary use on construction sites, mining, and off-shore operations.  

Globally, demand has been driven by the combination of an increased demand for technology – and the associated prevalence of data centres – and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events. Diesel generators provide a dependable source of power during emergencies and weather-related outages, ensuring continuity of operations for businesses and essential services. For applications that rely on greener power sources such as solar or wind, which may be intermittent at times, diesel also remains a reliable backup solution to help to balance the grid and ensure power continuity.  

Key considerations when investing in backup power  

The growth of the generator market is a clear indication that business and industry is increasingly aware of the need to have backup power in place. In industries where power stability is critical, such as the data centre and healthcare sectors, most organisations will have robust power resilience plans in place to mitigate the risks of a power outage.  

Businesses select the right genset based on several factors, including their specific power needs, budgetary constraints, reliability requirements, and environmental considerations. As part of this specification process, facilities managers must undertake a comprehensive audit of current and future power requirements. This includes looking at possible peak loads, as well as carefully determining mission-critical loads, non-essential requirements, and the need to future-proof power systems for scalability.  

Once this initial audit has been done, the selection process can be a lengthy one. As a big financial investment that can directly impact business resilience, specifiers are likely to be particularly thorough – from looking at fuel types to service intervals, emissions, and environmental legislation, to exploring the features, reliability and warranties offered by different manufacturers, as well as the ROI and the long-term operating costs. 

When investing in any new piece of kit, this initial specification and selection process can be time-consuming. As such, it can be easy to overlook the need for ongoing maintenance. However, with generators, this is a critical step in the process. There is absolutely no merit in investing in backup power without considering how to ensure that it provides backup seamlessly in the event of an outage. The only way to guarantee that a generator will operate in an emergency is to use a loadbank.  

Loadbanks for generators 

As the generator market grows, so too does the demand for loadbanks. In 2022, Crestchic invested in new manufacturing facilities, expanded its rental fleet, and took on new team members. These investments have enabled the company to increase its manufacturing output by 100%, ensuring that they could meet growing demand in more sales and rental markets. This growth in demand for loadbanks and power testing solutions is being driven by increased scrutiny of power resilience plans in the face of the changing energy landscape.  

Just like the gensets they test, load banks come in a range of sizes. They are used to commission, maintain, and verify electrical power sources, including diesel generators, turbines, and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS). They achieve this by applying an electrical load to the power source which replicates the load that it would encounter under real-life load conditions. The generated electrical energy is dissipated as heat through resistive elements, and the elements cooled by fans integrated into the load bank’s design.  

By applying a load under safe, non-emergency conditions (i.e. as part of a maintenance cycle), it is possible to fully test all the elements of the system. In the case of a generator, testing the system under load will test the fuel, exhaust, and cooling system, and reduce the potential for embedded moisture. A test that could make the difference between the genset providing power in the case of an emergency – or not.  

What issues does a full loadbank test mitigate?  

Running a loadbank test is the only way to verify the engine’s ability to provide the power required to meet critical loads, helping to avoid an array of common issues which can impact performance:  

Alternator testing: Just like a car, the alternator is the part of the generator which converts the mechanical energy of the engine into electrical energy. Alternator housing, windings, bearings, controls, and cooling system should all be included as part of regular generator maintenance. A resistive-reactive load bank test will help to identify any problems and test the alternator’s capability to provide the required voltage and pinpoint any work that needs to be done to prevent the generator from failing.  

Voltage regulator response time: The role of the Automatic Voltage Regulator is to maintain a steady output voltage, regardless of variations in the load or speed of the generator. Improper functioning of the AVR can result in voltage fluctuations, and power quality issues such as harmonic distortion and flicker, which can affect the performance and longevity of both the generator and any connected equipment. Testing the system with a loadbank can help identify any issues before they cause a problem.  

Wet stacking: When engines operate significantly below their rated output level, on a low load, it can result in a build-up of unburned fuel deposits around the combustion chamber, injector nozzles, piston rings, turbocharger, and exhaust. This phenomenon, known as “wet stacking,” can result in reduced power, increased emissions and increased operational costs. Placing the generator under load, using a loadbank, can help to avoid this issue. In the case of generators that use exhaust after-treatment, a load bank can be used to ensure sufficient load is provided to allow the generator to run at a level that ensures optimal performance of the treatment.  

Cooling systems: The only way to accurately test a cooling system and ensure that the thermostats are fully open is to test the generator under load. Weekly running, while vital to the overall health of the system, will not cause the thermostat to open enough to identify any issues. Using a load bank is the best way to fully test the system.  

To help with specifying the right load bank for your generators or power testing application, contact our team.  

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