Diesel Battery Units for a Sustainable Power Supply

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In the modern world, the reliable power supply for various facilities is one of the most important priorities for all types of organizations. These organizations are often construction companies for which autonomy and uninterrupted power supply are some of the key factors in ensuring a continuous work cycle during construction to reduce downtime and power outages. In a pandemic, it has also proven to be important to ensure rapid deployment of capacity to power all necessary devices and machinery. To meet these requirements, the power supply must be mobile, easy to work with, and inexpensive.

One excellent and affordable solution to this challenge is containerized diesel generator units (DGU), both stationary and on chassis; these are characterized by the versatility of fuel, an uninterrupted power supply, and a quick start-up. I would also like to point out the flexibility in the application of such units – the system of modular containers with power ranking for solving separate tasks increases the reliability of the whole system and also allows one to redirect a portion of the produced power to the necessary sites. An important advantage is the possibility of reducing the volume of exhaust gasses from large installations, minimization of idling, and operating at a reduced load, which differs from the effective power. With a large number of advantages, DGUs have significant disadvantages, such as low environmental friendliness, high noise levels, and impracticality for use in dense urban developments due to the above-mentioned factors.

In recent decades, there has been a growing need worldwide to use green energy and reduce our impact on the environment. The greenest energy supply projects are based on a combination of solar panels and stationary batteries, but in my opinion, the use of such installations has several limitations. Solar panels have many advantages, but at the moment we cannot fully rely on using them alone. During cloudy weather, rain, or night, they do not work at 100% and can only be used as an auxiliary element to increase the efficiency and autonomy of the installation. At the same time, the use of batteries in the structure of the installation is more justified at the moment, as it provides an opportunity to use both standard lead batteries and modular lithium-ion batteries. The advantages of combined units are obvious – environmental friendliness, no need for qualified maintenance during operation, quick replacement, and versatility for repair or capacity expansion. From the disadvantages, we should mention the insufficient efficiency of the solar panels and high dependency on electricity supply from the different weather and time factors, as shown by the graph below.

Fig.1 Solar Panel Output
Fig.1 Solar Panel Output

Based on the above graph, I consider containerized Diesel Battery Units (DBU) – which include diesel generator sets, solar panels, and battery packs – to be the most acceptable option for quick deployment and environmental friendliness for supplying electricity to various types of customers and their facilities. Their main advantages are the constant availability without voltage sag, smoothing of voltage and current surges, constant feeding of the batteries, and the reduction of environmental damage. An important factor is their mobility; the container can be mounted on a chassis and move freely depending on the need to change where the power supply is during project development. The possibility of easy logistics, the versatility of connection, fast location, the ability to quickly change the power due to modularity, reduced fuel costs, and environmental friendliness compared to conventional DGU make it more efficient and economical. The fact that the system can be absolutely silent and environmentally friendly at low load, for example, in the evening hours, producing the necessary amount of electricity from batteries, is also not unimportant. The generator can run for six hours or less (if an additional renewable energy source is used) per day. The rest of the time energy is supplied by the battery packs via the inverter. The battery in this case is charged every time the generator is started, moreover, parallel charging from the solar battery is possible. The built-in microprocessor in the inverter controls the load and the charging current of the batteries so that the diesel generator set always works in optimum mode. There is also no complexity in the installation and maintenance of diesel battery systems, many processes are automated, and the person only needs to know where to fill the fuel.

The undoubted advantages, confirmed by the experience of operating differently in power diesel battery systems are:

  • Increase in the use of nominal power of the diesel engine up to 50%, increase engine life by 150%
  • Decrease in noise levels by up to 60 dB
  • Decrease in power generation costs by 150%
  • Increase the service interval between services by half
  • Decrease in diesel fuel consumption by 50%, reduction of harmful emissions into the atmosphere by 30%

The obvious disadvantage is the high cost of diesel battery units compared to conventional diesel generators, but the graph below shows that the payback period for such units is quite short.

Fig.2 DBU Payback Time
Fig.2 DBU Payback Time

I believe that the future belongs to such units in the power supply of both construction sites and large industrial facilities. These systems will make it possible to solve the entire range of tasks, take into account the power required for power supply, and design universal systems based on standard modules that can work both for large and small facilities by simply adding and removing units. Undoubtedly, the development of new green technologies, the automation of processes, the use of smart devices and sensors, as well as modern software leads to the universality of solutions, convenience in operation, and preservation of the environment. 

In sum, I want to offer advice to potential customers who have not yet decided how to provide their facilities with electricity. The use of Diesel Battery Units (DBU) has many advantages due to their versatility and environmental friendliness, mobility, reduced fuel consumption, less noise, and small overall unit size, so the choice is obvious!

Vadim Platonov, MSc in Electrical Power Engineering, experienced engineering manager, author of many innovations, and CEO of the Florida-based electrical manufacturing company.

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