Monitor Your Power Generation Equipment in the “Cloud”!

One of the big takeaways from the unprecedented events of this last year is the requirement to work remotely, often with limited access to our facilities. This can pose major challenges when our power generation equipment is onsite and our operations and maintenance teams are working from home!

It has become more important than ever to have a cost effective solution that provides peace of mind that our power generation needs can be met without being onsite.

To meet this need, Collicutt is pleased to announce the release of our secure, internet based, Remote Monitoring Solution. With this solution you can monitor your power generation equipment from anywhere in the world through a secure internet connection. The solution provides up to date status conditions for critical points as well as alarm indications for conditions that may compromise your units ability to provide power during a power outage.

We offer three levels of service as shown in the graphic below and would be happy to discuss this solution with you in detail!

Call or email us for details on how we can get you set up!

Collicutt Energy Services – Powering tomorrow through unrivaled solutions today!

1-888-682-6888 or info@collicutt.com

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What is a D-UPS and Why Should You Care?

D-UPS stands for Dynamic Uninterruptible Power Supply. It can also be referred to as a dynamic rotary uninterruptible power supply (DRUPS) or as a flywheel energy storage power system.

So what is it and what does it do?

Many data centers, hospitals, and other industries that depend on stable electric power have back up emergency generators for when the power grid fails as they simply cannot tolerate a power failure. To complicate things further, many of these industries cannot tolerate a power source that falls outside a narrow performance tolerance.

The default solution to this situation has been to power these critical applications through an Uninterruptible Power System or UPS that is battery based. Basically, utility power runs a battery charging system which charges a large battery bank. The battery bank then powers the critical loads by converting its DC power to highly stable AC power using a DC to AC inverter.

Although these systems have many advantages and have a proven track record in some industries, they do have many shortcomings, including the need for massive battery banks capable of storing enough power to last during an extended power grid failure.

The Solution

The D-UPS eliminates the need for costly and finicky battery banks while still providing a highly dependable and stable power supply for critical loads. Basically, a D-UPS is a combination of an electric motor (which also doubles as a generator), a flywheel, a diesel engine, and a reactor (or choke coil).

A D-UPS system depicted in the diagram below.

Essentially, utility power is fed into the D-UPS system. It powers an electric motor which spins a large electro-mechanical flywheel. This flywheel stores  kinetic energy. The electric motor, in conjunction with a choke coil, works as an active filter and removes power quality problems from the utility power (e.g., harmonics, RFI, frequency variations, etc.).

When the utility power fails, the stored kinetic energy in the flywheel is released and powers the electric motor which now becomes a generator. This generator now provides uninterrupted power to the critical load. At the same time, the diesel engine fires up and, within 2 to 10 seconds, takes over from the flywheel to drive the generator providing sustained, uninterrupted, stable power for the critical systems downstream.

Take Action!

If you are involved in the construction of a new facility that requires high quality, uninterruptible power or if you looking at upgrading your existing back up power systems it is worth considering a D-UPS system.

Collicutt is able to work with you in doing the evaluation and we are able to provide the Kinolt D-UPS system through our association with MTU. If the evaluation determines that a static UPS is required, we can work with you to provide the backup generators for this system.

We currently maintain over 360MW of power generation equipment for data centers in California and many of these are D-UPS systems from various manufacturers.

If you have questions about your existing power generation system or would like to inquire about a new system, give us a call. We are always glad to help!

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The Importance of Load Bank Testing

How do you know your emergency generator will work when the power grid fails? You have invested all this money in a back up generator but what assurance do you have that it will work when you need it most?

We have all heard the stories of businesses that have had to stop production or send employees home because of power failures. Then there are the situations where power failure puts the organization at risk of loosing their inventory or even the extreme case of risk of life at a health care or elder care facility.

The loss of power for any business or organization is not an acceptable outcome!

What Can You Do

So what can you do to make sure your back up generator is ready for use?

One of the best things you can do to ensure your emergency generator is ready for service is to complete a periodic load bank test. A load bank test evaluates the generator’s performance by simulating up to 100% of the generator load within a controlled environment.

What Does Load Banking Do For Your Generator?

 When a load bank is performed on your generator it:

  1. Validates Overall Generator Functionality – Completing a load bank test allows the generator to run under a load and validates all of the components of the generator. Voltages and currents are monitored along with temperatures and other critical operating parameters.
  2. Burns Off Unburnt Fuel – The generator has the opportunity to remove any unburnt fuel that may have accumulated in the DPF, a condition called wet stacking.
  3. Removes Carbon Build Up – The generator needs to run at operating temperature to allow for any carbon build up to burn off from injectors, rings pistons, in the DPF, etc.
  4. Checks Coolant System – Load Banking allows for the validation of proper coolant temperatures and the radiator functionality while the generator is at full load.

Take Action

Rather than just assuming that your backup generator will work properly when the power fails, take action now and have your generator load banked. Technicians will monitor all aspects of your generator during the load bank process and identify any areas needing adjustment or repair. This will prepare your emergency generator for any utility power outage!

Call us if you need any assistance with load banking. We have factory trained technicians and load banks ready to provide service to any make or model of generator!

Also, check out these related posts for more generator maintenance tips:

  1. Top 6 Reasons Why Your Emergency Generator Will Fail to Start
  2. What is an ATS and Why Should You Care
  3. Preserving an Engine
  4. How a Pre-Lube System Can Save You $500,000
  5. How to Avoid DPF Failure with These Easy Steps
  6. The Number 1 Reason Your Generator will Fail

 

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Don’t Make This Mistake When Buying Your Power Generator!

In today’s world of infinite features, gadgets, and widgets it can be difficult for a consumer to cut through the noise and truly differentiate products!

It seems that the more expensive the product, the tougher this differentiation becomes! As the initial purchase price climbs, the temptation for the purchaser is to make a selection based solely on the initial purchase price.

However, this is often a big mistake!

The Big Mistake!

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What is an ATS and Why Should You Care

Did you know that your emergency power system has one crucial point of failure that is completely independent of your emergency generator? If this component fails, your generator will not even know it needs to start!

This single point of failure is called an ATS or Automatic Transfer Switch.

An ATS monitors the electrical power from your utility and, when it detects a power grid failure, it signals your emergency generator to start. It then switches your facility from utility power to generator power. When it detects that the utility power is restored, it switches back to the utility and signals the emergency generator to shut off.

Although it is a critical component in your emergency power system, ATS maintenance is often neglected for various reasons. However, this neglect will eventually result in a failure to transfer power when you need it most!

Reasons That an ATS Fails to Transfer Power

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Reliability in Power

Reliability in Power

This is the Fifth episode in this series called ‘Understanding Power’.

This episode’s topic is all about understanding the cost of your utility bills.

This video and blog covers two topics

  1. Reliability in Power
  2. Reliability in Transmission

Relability in Power Generation

on January 13, the Alberta Electrical System Operator (AESO) released two notices, each more serious than the other: The grid was at risk of having province wide blackouts. What caused this? Well, it was two-fold:

  • High Demand: because it was winter and it was extremely cold  (-30C), there was a lot of extra load. In fact, Alberta hit an all time high record that week.
  • Limited Power Generation: Alberta has a large percentage of wind power capacity(shown in pie chart on left below) but the thermal gradients that create wind are limited in very cold weather meaning there was very little wind power being generated (shown in pie chart on right below)

this created the perfect storm where we had an elevated load and an undersupplied grid almost resulted in calamity.

Ensuring Sufficient Power Generation

It is probably very clear that a territory needs to ensure that there is more power generation capacity than there is load, what may not be as straight forward is how the different types of power generation operate throughout the day and respond to load variability.

above is a fictitious example of a typical 24 hour day within an example jurisdiction.  What this chart is aiming to show is how throughout an average day, most grids see dramatic load change with two main spikes: the first in the morning as people get up and get ready for work, and the second at nighttime when people leave work and start cooking.

Our grid power generation mix is made up of 3 main groups: (Get more information on power generation technologies)

  • Baseline power: Power generation capacity that cannot easily be ramped up or ramped down. 
  • Variable Power: Power generation systems that produce power when available such as solar (during sunlight hours) and wind (when the wind blows)
  • ‘Agile’ Power: Power generation systems that can easily be ramped up or ramped down to allow for overall grid load response. 

In the chart shown above, you can see how the baseline power (Nuclear, Hydro and Large thermal) remain relatively consistent throughout the day. Additionally, you will notice how solar comes on during sunlight hours. Though wind appears to be consistent, Wind power is a function of wind and can be unreliable as seen above. Finally you can see how the major load variability is responded to by small and responsive thermal plants which operate using engines and aero derivative turbines. The benefit of these types of systems are that they can be easily turned on, ramped up and then turned off as necessary.

This mix of generation capabilities allows the grid to quickly respond to load changes ensuring reliability of power supply.

Reliability in Transmission

The second part of this topic is about reliability in the transmission systems we employ to transmit power from the point of generation to the eventual location of where the load is, whether that is our house or a facility.

It is straight forward to understand that we need to have adequate power generation for the load of our grid at any given time; but equally, we need to ensure that this transportation infrastructure can supply the amount of power to the locations required. The major portion of our system is the transmission lines, whether that’s the transmission portion, or the distribution portion, the power lines play a huge role in the reliability of our power system.

Transmission Reliability Problem 1: Capacity Overload:

The first thing we need to make sure is that we are never in a scenario where our load exceeds the capacity of our transmission lines. In scenarios where the load of the system exceeds the capacity of the power lines or transformers, we end up in scenario where we will have system wide power failure. Want more information how the transmission system works?

Transmission Reliability Problem 2:

Powerline obstruction

The second scenario that we see a lot with power lines is power lines are highly susceptible to weather: They’re above ground, easily exposed to flying debris, for example, in hurricanes, and also susceptible to easily sparking fires and we’re seeing this happen quite a bit in California these days.

 

 

 

In 2019 act, we actually saw a utility actively choose to turn off their high voltage power lines, because of fears that their lines would cause fires and that resulted in massive power outages and failures within the the Northern California region.

How can we increase reliability in transmission?

 Well, one of the ways that a utility can increase the reliability of the grid, is by generating power closer to the load, and ont he distribution side of the transmission system. This is called distributed generation. By moving the generation closer, the likelihood of line failure between generation and load has been dramatically reduced.

Onsite Power Generation

So let’s say you lose power at your facility and there is no distributed power generation or in fact, the power outage is right outside of your building, how are you going to ensure that you have reliability? this is where standby generation or on site power generation support power reliability.

Below is an example of a backup diesel generator installed at a hospital to provide backup power in the case of grid power failure. Want more information? 

 

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Power Markets

Power Markets

This is the fourth episode in this series called ‘Understanding Power’.

This episode’s topic is all about understanding the cost of your utility bills.

after evaluating your utility bill, it quickly becomes clear that there are two major factors or two primary categories of costs:

  1. Energy Charge.
  2. The cost of the Transmission and Distribution (T&D)

Energy Charge:

The energy charge is effectively the cost cost of energy that is consumed at our facility, house or industrial application

What affects the Energy Charge?

Some of the major factors that play into that into the energy charge are as follows:

  • the types of generation mechanisms within your jurisdiction: Some are cheaper, some are more expensive.
  • The supply and demand curve: do we have a lot of supply and not a whole lot of demand, that will bring price down, if it’s the opposite, you’re going to see prices rise to incentivize power generation increase.
  • Weather, climate, geography: those play a huge role.
  • Regulatory policy

Transmission Charge

Second aspect is the cost of transmission and what are we paying for that. Simply put, we’re paying for the cost of getting those electrons from the centralized generation facilities right through to our final end use customer location, whether that’s your house, office or large industrial facility.

The rates and cost of power transmission does vary depending on the facility and rate that your specific utility charges (or is regulated and allowed to charge)

How does Power Transmission Work?

Most jurisdictions have large centralized generation plants, typically on the transmission side, and large volumes of loads on the distribution side of the system.

Transmission System

As mentioned, in most jurisdictions the majority of power generation is supplied by large centralized systems that uses the transmission system to transfer the load to a large volume of customers spread out geographically.

As such, the transmission system operates at high voltage so that large volumes of power can be transmitted with minimal line loss (Power loss) from the generation systems to the eventual load.

Typically there is minimal load (or customers) on the transmission side but there are rare occasions where facilities tie into the transmission system.

Distribution System

The distribution system operates at reduced voltage allowing safe and reliable transportation of power within urban and city environments. Distribution can range from as high as 26 kV and down to 120V.

The majority of the grid’s load is typically on the distribution system.

Regulated vs De-regulated Power Markets

Some jurisdictions operate their power infrastructure under a regulated style, while some are de-regulated.

So what is a regulated environment?

In a regulated power market, a single entity or organization owns and operates everything. From the generation capacity, to the meter on your house or facility, that single entity oversees everything. So typically, the utility is the monopoly, you really don’t have any choice and the utility sets the rates. You really have no option.

So what is a de-regulated environment?

A de-regulated market is a competitive marketplace, where multiple entities can buy and sell power. So on the on the generation side, you have multiple power generators that are competing to provide power at the cheapest rate, and then on the customer side, you have retailers who are competing for customers by offering the best rates. So what this allows is a customer to have a choice in whom they are going to get power from and that choice can be based on, on cost, sustainability to other specific criteria to that customer; that’s one of the benefits of a deregulated power market.

Centralized vs Decentralized vs Behind-the-fence generation

So one of the last things I want to speak to is the concept of centralized power generation vs distributed power generation vs behind the fence (BTF) generation.

Centralized Power Generation

As mentioned above, most power generation is usually done at large centralized facilities. The economies of scale typically allow this power generation to be cost-effective. Additionally with the ability to be on the transmission side, large volumes of power can be transmitted easily.

Distributed Power Generation

We are starting to see a move to distributed generation, where we’re placing generation closer to the point of load and on the distribution side of the transmissions system. By doing this, we reduce the amount of capital required to transmit power and we increase the reliability and resiliency of the grid

Behind-The-Fence Power Generation

The last is Behind-The-Fence (BTF) generation. We can actually reduce our transmission costs, reduce our utility bill by generating our own power. If you’re a large industrial customer, there’s huge incentives for you to generate your own power.

 

 

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S2:E3 – How is Electricity Generated?

This is the third episode in our series titled ‘Understanding Power’

This episode delves into the different mechanisms and methods for generating electricity.

The first thing we discuss is how kinetic energy is turned into electrical energy using a generator.

This video then goes into the different ways that kinetic energy is converted from other forms of energy, some that are storable and others that are not.

We then delve into renewable power generation technologies and their merits and disadvantages.

Finally this video touches on the topic of curtailment and how excess power, predominantly from renewables, may have to be wasted because it is produced in excess of the load with insufficient storage options.

Feel free to check out other videos like this on our website and sign up on our website for notification of new videos.

 

 

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S2:E2 – Different forms of Energy

Energy comes in different forms and one of the main ways that we use energy is for heat. Whether that is for cooking, or transportation or even power generation (we’ll get into that in episode 3 of this series)

This video compares 4 of the primary energy sources used in our day-to-day:

  • Electricity
  • Natural Gas
  • Diesel
  • Propane

We look at the difference in cost/kWh of energy and the CO2 output of each of these energy sources

We will be posting these weekly so make sure to follow us or sign up for our newsletter to receive notice of when we post them:

https://www.collicutt.com/ca/contact-us/

 

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