Diesel Genset Systems Have A Bright Future With Solar Added


In many regions of the world, power grids are either inadequate or nonexistent. As a result, industrial companies must rely on diesel genset systems for power. Diesel gensets provide 500 GW of electricity to industrial companies worldwide.

However, diesel fuel costs continue to rise. In many regions, the price for one liter of diesel has already exceeded one U.S. dollar. In addition, if the fuel has to be shipped to remote regions, costs increase even more as a result of the necessary transportation and storage. This can often double the spot price for a liter of diesel fuel.

At the same time, photovoltaic system costs have dropped by more than 50% within the last three years. In sunny regions, PV has already become the most economically viable way to generate power, even without subsidies. It simply makes sense to combine PV and diesel systems so that solar power – which is both abundant and free – can profitably be used as an energy source in industrial applications.

Despite their high initial system costs, PV systems can be amortized in as little as three to five years in sunny regions. For many energy-intensive industries in remote regions with little or no grid infrastructure, PV is the ideal supplement to a diesel-fueled power supply.

13004_effective_fuel_cost_graph_small.jpg In addition, PV systems are flexible and can be expanded on a modular basis as the energy demand grows. Compared to pure genset systems, a PV-diesel hybrid system provides numerous advantages, including the following:

-Lower fuel costs;
-Reduced risk of fuel price increases and supply shortages, thanks to optimized planning;
-Minimal CO2 emissions for better CO2 certificate trading; and
-Improved public perception due to PV's eco-friendly qualities.

SMA offers a solution for photovoltaic-diesel hybrid systems that can be easily integrated into both new and existing power supply plants: the SMA Fuel Save Solution. A key element of this is the SMA Fuel Save Controller, which provides an effective interface between the gensets, PV systems and loads to ensure that the amount of solar energy fed into the system exactly matches the demand at that time. It provides security with reduced fuel costs while also minimizing CO2 emissions. The SMA Fuel Save Solution can achieve 60% of PV capacity compared to installed genset capacity. That means 600 kW of PV power can be installed with each megawatt of operating genset power.

SMA inverters are another essential component of the SMA Fuel Save Solution. Both the Sunny Tripower and the Sunny Central can be used in a photovoltaic-diesel hybrid system. Designed specifically to be used in weak utility grids, they are suitable for high voltage and frequency fluctuations. SMA inverters remain productive in harsh ambient conditions, such as extreme heat, high humidity and salty air. They also provide integrated grid management functions and rapid communication between system components to reduce fuel consumption and ensure stable grid operation.
For industries that rely on diesel fuel for electrical power such as mining, raw material processing, agriculture, water desalinization or remote tourism, low power generation costs, quick operational readiness and maximum reliability are essential. More than 100 GW of PV has been installed worldwide, proving that photovoltaics is a reliable technology and one from which more and more industrial companies are profiting. It is an attractive economical and ecological supplement to diesel systems.

Click here to learn more about PV-diesel hybrid systems or the SMA Fuel Save Solution.

Tristan Kreager is Manager of Hybrid Energy Solutions at SMA America. For more information, please contact sales@SMA-America.com.

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