Balancing Renewable Sources with Traditional Standby Power

by Regular Contributor on ‎10-14-2011 09:34 AM


Renewable energy. Green power. Solar. Wind. We have all heard the discussion and the debates between the value and benefit of renewable energy sources vs. the more traditional forms of base load generation – coal and nuclear being the main two. Should renewable energy be subsidized? Should we eliminate subsidies for coal and oil? These questions have stirred a lot of debate and passion from both sides. Regardless of which school of thought you support, I don't think anyone can argue that renewable sources will play an increasing role in the U.S. and global power grids.

This growth in renewables really hit me on my last trip. I was flying out of a Midwest airport that I had not flow out of in a while. As I was driving to the airport, I was amazed at the number of wind turbines that have been installed in a fairly short time. And this got me to thinking about how diesel generator sets will fit into this renewable future.

Renewables, by themselves, are ideal solutions for any power grid. If the wind isn't blowing, or the sun isn't shining, then power isn't available. So some sort of additional base load power generation is needed, which today takes the form of large coal, nuclear, or natural gas generating stations. But the renewable sources (possibly coupled with utility scale energy storage) give us the opportunity to decrease our reliance on the large base load plants.

So as we add these renewable sources, do you see the overall grid reliability increasing?

Can we get to the point where standby power generation, as it exists today, is no longer needed? Or will diesel generator sets play a larger role in the future as localized distributed generation units?

And what about gas generator sets? Do you see these playing a larger role in the standby / distributed generation market?

I am interested in hearing your thoughts. Please post them below.

by New member systek
on ‎10-18-2011 02:30 AM

It's interesting to me that you do not mention nuclear power as a source of alternative energy.  However, to your main point, of course there will always be a need for standby power generation.  No matter how diverse and robust our primary sources of energy, most of us will still depend upon transmission lines and distribution lines to bring the power to where we want to use it.  And it would be insanely expensive to make those systems so robust that we would never have a power outage.  So, if we need continuous (or nearly continuous) power, we need standby power.


As for gas turbines - I'm all for them, if I need the level of power that they can generate efficiently.  But then again, they make us depend upon a source of gas fuel, and who's to say that source will be any more reliable than the electric power grid?  Perhaps diversity will help, but ... ?  The beauty of diesel, or gasoline, is that it can be stored on site, provided it is properly looked after.

on ‎10-18-2011 02:46 AM

In mideast mostly peoples are installing solar enegy & wind energy power plant only that place where Gas is not available because still gas per unit cost is 4 times cheap than diesel cost  if some one have solar enegy or wing energy plant then it is not possible they have the availability of gas so these people need to be diesel engines as standby becasue gas storage is very complicated & also safety more safety risks involved.

In general Mideast Gas engines have big scop due to low running fuel cost .


by New member pdvjak
on ‎10-18-2011 03:39 AM

Hybrid solar/generator (or solar/wind/generator) systems are becoming more popular for remote areas and islands/resorts (18,000 islands here in Indonesia alone, then look at Maldives, Pacific Islands, Caribean). Variable speed generators are preferred (saves batteries). Gas is preferred, but often more difficult (although gas 'delivery' concepts are beginning to exist). Heat-recuperation for cooling (ice-making, cold storage) can be a good option. As renewable/alternative energy man, I think the 'combustion' should play a secondary role and 'fill-in' any shortages in the RE generation. It would be great if we could get rid of (or reduce) batteries as storage medium.... H2, or compressed air, or pumped hydro can be looked at.

by Contributor smithj
on ‎10-18-2011 05:12 AM

As our use of renewable energy increases, I believe that we will see creative uses of diesel and natural gas generators to supply some of the ancilary needs for the grid that were traditionally supplied by the base load generator plants.  Functions such as frequency stability and voltage control could be supplimented by small diesel or gas units.  Also, quick response units could be utilized in conjuction with grid storage to fill the gaps of an intermittant source such as solar or wind.

by Regular Contributor
on ‎10-18-2011 11:35 AM

Gas Turbines are out...High heat rates, poor power curves, poor response time, poor turn down rates all your eggs in one basket all coupled with the market demand for load flexible assets are leading more and more Utilities including my employer to install Spark fired RICE. Our Models indicate we will initially have 2000 hrs of operation per year and go up from there....... Evidently Mr. Oberhelman thinks the same way. We're get meet with him shortly so he can thanks us for buying all these CM engines from him.......

by New member kailashrangaraj
on ‎10-18-2011 12:06 PM

You made a nice point that in future we will all depend on renewable energies alone but again we should not miss the point that whatever innovation we do we must give it a sustainanble way.To be clear as the statistics says that since the crude will be available only for a few more years(approximately 30-40) they are shifting toward the natural gases and they themselves accept that it will also last for another 70 years and all the infrastucture built for the purpose will be wasted like anything.


So what my point of view is more cogeneration industries must be built and also we need to unlock the hidden mystery present in the Nature.For example in India the sugar cane wastes are dumped like anything insted of wasting so it can be used for the power generation industries.The produced waste heat can be used for oil extraction processes  

by New member rasinant
on ‎10-19-2011 07:06 PM

Our company is officially registered in Armenia. We have developed a method for producing cheap electricity through a mechanism, working on water and compressed air. For finished goods, work sample and production begins, we are looking for partners. We offer good conditions for mutually beneficial co-operation .. Are you interested ?

by Regular Contributor
on ‎10-28-2011 01:39 AM

we have star use cat base engine to burn renovable fuel combustible, with realy good efficence, and financial goal payback, future is go to more use of bio energy from renovable industrial waste, and more processing with lows impacts,no choise, regards Claudio

on ‎11-28-2011 08:02 AM

The addition of non-dispatchable generation capacity, such as wind & solar PV, to an electricity system increases the need for highly responsive dispatchable generation capacity to provide overall balance in the system. The question then becomes what is the best option that could be used for the offset?


Many jurisdictions in North America have built conventional central-plant generation capacity to offset wind & solar. While easier to contract the reality is that these plants generally are harder to site, more challenging to connect, and difficult to achieve greater that 60% in overall fuel efficiency.


Using small-scale generators, typically driven by RICE prime movers, electricity system operators can leverage the advantages of these distributed generators including being easily sited, highly efficiency (as CHP systems), and very responsive to dispatch commands. The choice of using CI or SI prime movers should be determined by what is best suited to meet the generator host's needs while meeting environmental regulations.


An enhanced solution to using Diesel or natural gas as fuel for these embedded generators is Renewable Natural Gas (RNG). RNG is produced by anaerobic digestion of organics and is then processed to pipeline quality standards for fossil-fuel derived natural gas. If transported in the NG pipeline embedded generation assets operating on RNG can be dispatched to offset wind & solar PV generation most beneficially during peaking demand times thereby using the gas pipeline as a storage mechanism. The environmental benefit of RNG is that non-dispatchable renewable generation assets such as wind & solar PV are offset by dispatchable renewable generation assets thereby preserving the environmental benefits of wind & solar PV.

by New member alihbourji
on ‎08-17-2012 04:51 AM


i am making a research on hybrid system, diesel-wind, asociated with compressed air storage system.

i need to know how much a 300ekw generator will need combustion air mass flow rate.

if noboday can help in this specific info, i would know the back pressure of the turbo associated with GEP400-2 (3-Phase) genset.

thanks in advance..


by New member ncallahan
on ‎01-22-2013 02:33 PM - last edited on ‎09-21-2017 04:11 PM by Administrator

I am an Advisor to an emerging alternative energy company called Gridless Power.


We have been working to deployed mobile power solution leverage alternative energy (solar/battery).  And we recently deployed to support first responders providing relief for Hurricane Sandy here in the New Jersey area.  (see attached).
We are looking to hybridize commercial generators with a battery/solar/software solution to expand the life of generators, reduce their maintenance costs and provide power when traditional fuel is not available.


I am looking for development partner to deloy our system on their generator(s).






by Visitor genset-solar
on ‎12-16-2013 12:12 PM

This is becoming a hot topic with the utilities here in the US and there is a lot of confusion out there. Puerto Rico and Hawaii have learned a lot but we are just on the bottom of the learning curve. Here are the facts:

1)      Solar is an energy source. Unless you are power a home in the woods, don’t try to make it a peaking source until an inexpensive storage source is found.

2)      Most think about generators helping fill in the lack of solar however it is the other way around. Solar is being used to help out large  generation plants around the world. Google: “SMA fuel Save Controller”. Solar can easily reduce up to 60% of the generation while the sun is out and higher with more complex controls. Utilities do not understand this concept yet.

3)      USA lost its edge with solar after 1989 with the layoff of many at Sandia and the utilities that were trying to advance a module that was only intended to charge a 12 volt battery. We knew that, only with higher voltages, the system BOS come down in cost. The 15 volt modules have progressed since that time to 60 volts each for 600 to 1000 volt systems and need to go to higher voltages on the utility scale system. This is where the utilities should embrace the technology and take it to a level where they are no longer using rooftop modules to make utility scale systems.

4)      Distributed solar photovoltaics (PV) make the most sense currently (especially on roof tops) to minimize the ramp rates on utilities.   Utilities have the ability to install 100 mw of solar in one square mile but if a cloud passes over then will drop it's power output in one minute causing their conventional generation to drop in frequency (not in voltage as many people  think).

5)      Utilities are pushing to impose a power factor tariff on solar photovoltaic installations. Power factor is voltage control for the utilities since they have long transmission lines. This is back to thinking Solar can be used for peak requirements. Line capacitors are inexpensive and are there when the load peaks. Utilities asking for inverters to produce VARS would be a waist in power (kwh output drops).

6)      We currently have large photovoltaic systems operating with conventional generation. The issue is, when large centralized PV level reaches the level of the generation capacity then there are issues with cloud cover. Clouds passing over reduce the inverter’s output which causes the load to quickly increase on the generators. The sudden increase in generator demand causes a dip in frequency which in turn causes the inverters on the system to drop off due to under-frequency. If the demand is being supplied by both the generators plus PV, when the load is greater than the generator capacity then the generators will also trip off.  The utilities need to widen the standards of frequency permitted on the inverters (example:  59.3 to 60.7) so that the inverters will not drop off during frequency events.

7)      There is currently one system which has 166% PV penetration. Approaching 60 to 100 percent system penetration with distributed PV is likely however this only reduces 20% of the system energy requirement.  Solar is an energy source and is not the end all solution to this country’s energy requirements given the utility's current limitations.

8)       If the utility transmission grid were tied together, with some large DC transmission system that could span between the west to the east coast, then solar could be used as peaking for areas to the east.

by New member sigmaheat
on ‎03-13-2015 11:30 AM - last edited on ‎09-21-2017 04:11 PM by Administrator

This is a really interesting conversation. I really hope we can bump this and continue the convo! 

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