Fuel for Thought: Efficiency Critical to Genset Selection

Maintaining reliable electric power in the winter is sometimes difficult even under the best conditions. Any engineer can imagine the challenge of serving the growing needs of a remote community of 830 people in northwest Manitoba, Canada, where fuel is shipped to the electric plant once a year by a winter road that is open from late January to the end of March.

10/01/2000


Maintaining reliable electric power in the winter is sometimes difficult even under the best conditions. Any engineer can imagine the challenge of serving the growing needs of a remote community of 830 people in northwest Manitoba, Canada, where fuel is shipped to the electric plant once a year by a winter road that is open from late January to the end of March.

In response to community demand in the town of Brochet, Canadian power utility company Manitoba Hydro installed a new diesel-generating powerhouse that produces 2.6 megawatts of prime power from three electronically controlled generator sets.

"The powerhouse incorporates a newer design and high-technology equipment that will bring Brochet residents a higher quality of service as the community grows," says Warren Gogol, Manitoba Hydro engineering staff officer.

Because of the remote location, fuel efficiency was a critical factor in selecting the site's generator sets. The Brochet site features 30 diesel tanks with a total capacity of nearly 400,000 gallons for a two-year supply. Before choosing the generator equipment, Manitoba Hydro representatives conducted a 10-year life-cycle analysis between competitive packages. The analysis indicated that the three generator sets chosen-two of which are rated 1,015 kilowatts at 1,200 rpm and one that is rated 600 kilowatts at 1,200 rpm-would consume less fuel and require less frequent maintenance with 30,000-hour overhaul intervals. The efficiency is credited to electronic engine controls that determine precise fuel consumption based on load demands from daily and seasonal energy-use cycles.

Another key factor in equipment selection was the ability to receive a complete package from a single manufacturer including the generator sets with their electronic controls, as well as switchgear for autoparalleling and synchronization, and a 250-kilowatt standby unit that restores plant lighting, battery back-up and block heaters during a complete shutdown. Previous generators used by Manitoba Hydro featured controls supplied by multiple manufacturers.

"Having a complete package simplified the installation, commission and testing of the gensets," says Manitoba Hydro engineer Richard Warsza. "In fact, it streamlined the process so much that it saved our technicians a week's worth of testing."

For more information about Caterpillar's 3500 Series B generator sets, circle 103 on the Reader Service Card, page 77.





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