Generator Set: a solution as an alternative energy source?

power plant

At present, it has become crucial to have the possibility of alternative AC power sources. The most commonly used systems for this purpose are power generation through a generator set or power plant and the photovoltaic system.

It is important to clarify that the generator set is also called a “diesel generator,” which, in our opinion, is a mistake. This is because, in reality, it is very simply a diesel engine with a generator coupled to its shaft.

The use of these two systems as alternative energy sources and electrical backup has spread worldwide. Whether as a backup in cases where conventional grid electricity fails or as a way to reduce dependence on the latter.

To give you some context, we have the post Electric Power Equipment for Telecommunications. Part 2. Don’t miss it!

Next, we will examine the advantages and disadvantages of each. And in our post Which one to choose: generator set or photovoltaic system, we will give you our verdict. Let’s get to work!

The generator set

generator set with normal electrical grid
Generator set with electric grid failure

TPN = Main Board of Normal Service, meaning it is not backed up by the generator set

TPE = Main Board of Emergency Service, which is powered by the generator set in case of a grid failure

Basically, the generator set consists of a diesel generator and an Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS).

The ATS is an automatic switch that changes position according to the active power source. When the grid is normal, it maintains its position in this source. But when the grid fails and the generator set starts, it automatically switches its state.

You can observe the mentioned operation in the two previous images. The other way of operating is in continuous mode, which is the way we will consider to compare it with the photovoltaic system. This case is represented in the following figure.

Continuous operation generator set

Advantages and Disadvantages

ventajas y desventajas del motogenerador

Next, we’ll mention the most important ones of this device as an alternative energy provider

Advantages of the generator set

  • Provides AC electricity at any time of day and night
  • In the event of a commercial power grid failure, restores electricity within less than a minute of operation
  • With proper maintenance, it is a highly reliable source of electricity
  • Has an approximate lifespan of over 20 years depending on usage
  • Diesel is a cost-effective fuel, and modern engines are highly efficient in this regard
  • Maintenance is straightforward with preventive measures

Disadvantages of the generator group

Its main disadvantages are associated with the diesel engine that comprises it.

  • It uses fossil fuel (diesel) to operate, emitting polluting gases. In summary, itis not a clean energy source
  • Requires periodic maintenance, which, although simple, involves the replacement of elements such as filters, oil, among others
  • Has rotating parts that wear out due to use, so it requires major maintenance every so often. This implies that it will be out of service for several hours or days
  • From an economic point of view, it is a relatively expensive form of electricity. This is due to the necessary components for its operation, such as fuel and consumables
  • Requires placement in a specially conditioned space and is very heavy.
  • It is very noisy, even those labeled as “soundproof.”
  • Its installation is complicated and requires significant construction, both structural and electrical.
  • Its capacity cannot be expanded. If you want to increase the available power, you must acquire another generator group and possibly make major adjustments.

If you want more information about this equipment, we invite you to read the post Generator group: advantages and disadvantages.Where we address this topic from a different perspective.

In our post called The automatic transfer switch of the generator system, we will explain its operation as an automation element for the generator group. Weassureyouthatitwill be very informative!

Considering the above: is the generator group the solution as an alternative energy source?

A decade ago, the answer to this question was a resounding “yes.” However, today, there are other alternative sources that offer different benefits.

One of the main drawbacks of electricity provided by a generator set is its cost. Which is very high due to fuel, maintenance, replacement of engine parts, etc. Most critically, these expenses are ongoing over time.

On the other hand, it is a type of electricity called “dirty” due to the pollution it entails. Including the emission of greenhouse gases, environmental noise, and the disposal of oil waste and scrap such as filter and others.

Therefore, you should consider this and other options when seeking an alternative source of electricity. According to the above, our answer to the question is a “depends” based on your preferences, budget and needs.

Additionally, we recommend checking out the content on the energydcac blog, which will clarify many concepts about photovoltaic systems and AC/DC power. Visit it and see for yourself!

One thought on “Generator Set: a solution as an alternative energy source?

  1. Pingback: Photovoltaic system and the generator set: which one to choose - Energy DC/AC

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