When you think about going completely off grid with renewables, especially in the northern areas of the United States, or Canada. It probably sounds strange to think Diesel could be the clean solution to problems you might not have experienced yet. However, Tier 4 Diesel is the solution for true off-grid installations and the elimination of delivery fees and surcharges by your local energy retailer. Diesel has been the choice for remote and mobile prime power generation for decades because of it’s reliability, safety, and efficiency. With Tier 4 engine regulations and added exhaust after-treatment methods, diesel emissions are at an all-time industry-low and virtually non-existent.
The problem that so many off-grid installations struggle with when trying to make the move to go completely off-grid, is the intermittent nature of renewables. This intermittent power generation from renewables makes it ever so hard to guarantee exactly how much energy you are going to produce day to day, week to week, and season to season. These installations will either require a very large energy storage solution and an increased renewable power source much greater than basic load. Or a reliable, cost-effective, clean source of power generation that can top up your energy demands in the lower energy-producing periods.
We need to start viewing Diesel Fuel as the companion to renewables, instead of the antagonist. Diesel Fuel is a safe, reliable fuel that can be stored for long durations without going sour. It is not prone to disruptions due to earthquakes, tornados, or damaged infrastructure. It can be exposed to a lit match without catching fire and can remain stationary and stored safely during seasons, where renewables are not able to meet or exceed basic demand. Set up correctly, sitting patiently, waiting on guard though; Diesel will always be ready for the times where renewable production is lower, and your storage solutions require a top-up.
Now, this is where knowing the difference between Prime Power engines and Backup Engines is important. Backup Engines are not rated or certified to run for the long durations and the frequency required in off grid installations. However, Prime Power Engines are designed and certified to run consistently for long periods of time. When maintained correctly they are also able to sit for long durations waiting to be used. Most Prime Power generators are manufactured to run at 1800 RPM instead of 3600 RPM. This lower speed increases the engine life expectancy substantially resulting in a more reliable and cost-effective asset.
Prime Power engines such as Isuzu, Yanmar, JCB and Hatz are known for achieving up to and beyond 40,000 hours of service life. They are also held to higher emission standards, meaning they burn fuel more efficiently and produce much lower emissions than Backup Power Engines. Yanmar, for example, has embraced the challenge and leads the global fight in climate change. Yanmar has decided to produce engines that exceed Tier 4 standards for North America.
What makes the partnership of Renewables and Diesel even more appealing is the engine longevity, reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions reduced because of the pairing. This is the result of being able to fully load up the engine when charging storage solutions. It is known that Diesel engines run best when fully loaded. There are many known problems associated with the light loading of engines, and this has increased with Tier 4 technology. It is more important now than ever to correctly size the load on your engines to prevent regeneration issues associated with the exhaust after-treatment methods, found on larger Tier 4 Engines. However, if you are able to run your engine at peak performance and load, then capture the energy and shut off the engine; you are able to eliminate DPF regeneration issues. This will result in increased engine and equipment life, lower maintenance costs, lower overall emissions, and a drastic reduction in fuel and overall operating expenses.