Unexpected bedfellows: temporary power and renewables

Our growing reliance on non-fossil, renewable energy sources is unavoidable.  Greater requirements for carbon reporting and the depletion of fossil fuel resources have meant renewables are becoming an increasingly popular power source for both national and private utilities, as well as businesses, worldwide.

The need to diversify the global energy mix and encourage long term energy security has driven an increase in the supply of renewable energy. The European Union in particular has seen a marked change with member states shifting from 80% of energy generation from fossil fuels towards more sustainable sources in recent years, with 72% of energy now coming from renewables.[1]

However as renewables are not yet 100% reliable, continued dependence on traditional sources is needed to fill the energy gap and ‘keep the lights on’. The flexibility of temporary power means that it is a perfect bedfellow for renewables due to the unpredictability of extreme weather conditions and unexpected maintenance causing disruptions to power generation.

Extreme environmental conditions mean that intermittency is a key issue within the sector and so a contingency plan to minimise the impact of power loss is mission critical. As part of our Power Solutions division, we work with a number of national utilities worldwide to guarantee continuous power year round, ensuring intermittency does not impact end users, productivity and economic growth.

For example, we were commissioned by Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise (MEPE) to install 95 MW of interim gas power and contribute to the national grid. Over 70 per cent of the country’s energy supply is dependent on hydropower, exposing it to serious power shortages during the dry season from December to June. By implementing a contingency plan in advance of the dry season, MEPE can improve risk mitigation and efficiency, and reduce customer minutes lost.

The interim site is located in the Myingyan district, set in the Mandalay Region of central Myanmar. With a substantial domestic reserve of natural gas, the interim site will be fueled from the China-Myanmar pipeline, ensuring a reliable power supply while keeping running costs down.  We worked with MEPE to implement an additional high pressure gas reduction facility and extra high voltage infrastructure to ensure the project was feasible in such a short period of time.       

This is a great example of how temporary power is evolving in tandem with the renewables industry.  Other innovative projects we are currently working on include anaerobic digestive power plants, providing water cooling technology to provide optimum conditions for biogas to produce, and replacing generators during maintenance to avoid the need to flare gas.

As renewables continue to play a bigger part of the global energy mix, temporary power will remain a vital component. It is therefore imperative that infrastructure remains in optimum condition, without becoming outdated or worn, posing a risk to reliability. As well as developing new innovations, Aggreko is working in partnership with renewables firms across the globe to facilitate the requirements necessary for maintenance of existing technology – whether it be providing replacement transformers or temperature control for engineers – and fill the energy gap where needed.

The flexibility of temporary power makes it a fitting partner throughout the lifecycle of a renewables plant, partnering with ecological consultants to power their research and surveys during the planning stages; supporting the manufacturing and installation of the technology; simulating full load conditions during commissioning to guarantee sign off; and powering equipment such as hydraulic pumps, de-humidifiers and heaters during operation.

An efficient and bespoke power supply throughout the lifecycle ensures that a plant is operational on time and can be connected to the grid on schedule, avoiding any potential investment losses or financial penalties.

The value of temporary power and putting a contingency plan in place, mitigating power loss and ensuring reliability, is massive. This need to fill the gap will become even more significant as more projects age and need updating, and new technologies are developed. The continued reliance on sustainable energy sources and associated risk of intermittency means that the role of interim power will remain a vital piece of the global energy mix puzzle for years to come.

For more information on Aggreko’s role within the renewables sector please visit www.aggreko.com


[1] Renewable Energy Policy Network, 2014 - http://www.ren21.net/

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