Bi-Fuel – Get Your Green On!

It may sound like a big cliché for me to say, however, now really is an exciting time to be involved with generators and engines. I say this with only the up-most sincerity knowing full well that the current trend of generators could continue on its current trend of more conventional diesel models. However, there are also a number of exciting new options that have created optimism in the industry. More specifically, I am referring to the exceptional advances in generator and engine technology that have made appearances in the industry as of late, and that have subsequently begun to provide some exciting new options for many users. One of the most notable is the bi-fuel engine generator. I strongly believe that it has the potential to change generators for the better. For those unfamiliar with a bi-fuel system, it is a type of diesel engine ignited through compression and operates on both diesel and natural gas combustion, but with a strong emphasis on the latter. The simultaneous usage of natural gas and diesel give bi-fuel generators more adaptability and efficiency for users when relying on the power source for a number of different functions. It is hard to argue that the bi-fuel engine generator is not a bright light in our industry and represents a more eco-conscious awareness as well.

A Little More About Bi-Fuel Engine Capabilities

The bi-fuel system provides a reliable and more environmentally friendly method of standby power than traditional diesel generators. Upon ignition, the bi-fuel generator runs off of only diesel fuel, which is most of the extent of the fuel source’s involvement within the generator. Although, as the bi-fuel engine system continues to run, it predominantly operates on natural gas at around 90 percent, with the remaining10 percent coming from diesel. As you can likely imagine, this detachment from diesel fuel allows users to rely less on the fuel source and more on natural gas, which is easier to store. Additionally, bi-fuel allows generators to extend run times through the process. This is especially useful for those that rely on generators, diesel in particular, during long power outages, such as a storm or other natural disaster. While cost may be a concern for some thinking about buying a bi-fuel generator, the cost of such models is only incrementally higher than conventional diesel generators, and is generally well-worth the extra expense.

Get Your Green On

Because bi-fuel predominately uses natural gas opposed to traditional generators, which mostly, if not entirely, run on diesel, they are considered by many experts to be “greener.” Natural gas is cleaner burning and therefore releases fewer emissions into the air when in use. This is a significant improvement from diesel, which comparably does have higher amounts of emissions. What’s more, bi-fuel generators let off 30 percent fewer nitrogen oxides emissions and 50 percent less particle matter compared to diesel models.

Whether you are looking for a generator with improved performance, or a model that can help your company get its green on, I personally recommend the bi-fuel option. It is easy to say that it will be the wave of the future for our industry, but I truly believe that you will be hearing about bi-fuel a lot in the future. Because it has the potential to improve so many aspects of how generators improve backup power supplies and other useful functions, there is enormous potential there. If you are at all hesitant about the bi-fuel generator, you should at least give it some consideration as it can save your facility in a pinch, and help improve the environment in the process.

For more information on WPP bi-fuel solutions, see our bi-fuel FAQ sheet.

The Next Boom Town !?!

Admittedly, I am not a fortune-teller, but I do honestly believe that Cline Shale has the potential to create a boom-town atmosphere in the Midland region. It may be easy for just about anyone to say such a thing of an oil play, however, the Cline Shale area truly holds something special.

It sits more than 9,000 feet under Cline Shale, which is, for the most part, along the eastern border of Texas’ Midland Basin. It stretches nearly 150 miles from the north end to the south, spanning around 70 miles wide in four counties.

Cline Shale Potential
With a number of wells showing significant promise in testing, the Cline Shale area has the potential to experience a drastic influx in drilling activity similar to that of oil plays in North Dakota and other parts of Texas. In fact, some believe the area could hold somewhere around 30 billion barrels of oil based on the nearly 10,000 sq. miles Cline Shale encompasses. What’s more, companies such as Laredo, Apache, Devon, Fire-wheel, and a number of others have already invested in Cline Shale with varying degrees of initial development. In fact, Laredo has over 140,000 prime Cline Shale acres. Apache has over half a million acres with six wells in the planning phase, and Devon has almost 390,000 acres in the area as well. As you can see, companies are buying up land and quickly planning the next phase of their operations, which lucky for us, will most certainly include the need for natural gas generators and engines.

Real Estate Boom
With potential for years to come in Cline Shale, it is expected that the area will turn into somewhat of a boom-town. I suspect this means a dramatic increase in real estate developments all over Reagan, Glasscock, Howard, and other outlying Texas counties.
This sounds familiar to the current housing situation in the North Dakota, where oil plays such as Bakken Shale have created a deficiency of housing, but wealth of jobs. In my opinion, the same could hold true for Cline Shale, although hopefully the local real estate developments will learn from the mistakes of other oil plays. In fact, many communities around the area are already concerned that the current housing developments will not be built in time for the boom, due in part to the fact that an increase in activity is currently underway. Real estate companies in the Cline Shale region have already been feeling the pressure to provide housing for people moving to the area for work, with one local realtor mentioning he gets frequent calls from people desperate for housing.

Business Boom

In addition to the housing boom in the Midland Basin and surrounding areas, I also suspect there will be a dramatic increase in commercial business. After all, where there are people and jobs there will need to be restaurants, along with grocery and retail stores. With the increase in drilling activity, it is almost certain that a wide range of new businesses will begin to sprout up in counties like Howard and Sterling. For our industry, it means the area will need more engines and generator sets.

Perhaps an even better determinate of the potential for community development in the Cline Shale play is longevity. In other words, the longer the area is consistently producing oil, the more established and developed the community can become. Development is key to the community, because as we have seen in the past, a major oil play that goes broke can quickly turn from a boom-town to a ghost town.

In Comparison
To better illustrate the potential Cline Shale has to increase housing and business development, I like to compare it to the current Bakken play. The United States Geological Survey reports that Bakken Shale will likely produce over four billion barrels of oil, which still yields in comparison to what is expected of Cline Shale. If the amount of oil produced in an area is any indication of the additional community development, then this leads me to believe that Cline Shale will likely need more real estate and business development than Bakken. What’s more, Cline Shale is projected to produce more barrels than the seemingly endless oil supply of Eagle Ford, which is estimated to produce up to 10 billion barrels.

Cline Shale is undoubtedly another boom-town in the making, which is an exciting time for a community, especially one so isolated. Like Bakken, and many other oil plays throughout the country, a lot still remains to be seen about its production, and the subsequent real estate and businesses that develop in the region. Personally, I always enjoy watching an oil play develop, because as someone that works with generators, I find the unpredictability exciting — oil plays adds a sense of intrigue to any related industry.

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Inadequate Power Generation – The Nigerian Power Sector

For the last several decades, the Nigerian power supply has been an ongoing issue. Over this time, excessive amounts of time, effort, and most notably, money have been spent to secure an adequate power supply to Nigeria. However, unsuccessful governmental policies, among other failures, have fallen in the way of installing effective energy sources and power supply to the area.

To date, there have been several major barriers to achieving an adequate power supply in Nigeria. A significant hindrance has been the amount of capital (money) needed to produce a constant power supply in the country. More specifically, Nigeria has endured a great deal of trouble securing enough funding to develop any sort of new energy sources, or maintain old ones. Thus, making it extremely difficult to find steady power throughout the country.

As the Executive Vice President of Worldwide Power Products, I realize not only the importance of viable energy sources, but also the difficulty in achieving such a steady supply. In addition to the struggle to secure funding for adequate power sources in Nigeria, the fight for proper power generation is also an issue. In contrast to countries, similar in size, or even larger, Nigeria and its more than 150 million citizens live with an entirely insufficient power generation supply.

While the country of Nigeria has a limited number of power plants still active, they are largely outdated and produce power extremely inefficiently. With a number of the country’s power plants dating back multiple decades, it is in dire need of updated hydro and thermal plants to improve all reliable energy sources. What’s more, additional issues, such as vandalism, lacking preventative maintenance and infrastructure bottlenecks, among other hindrances, largely play into the country’s energy issues. Also, there have been an unjust number of injuries and deaths to qualified sector personnel that have set the country back, along with its increasing dependence on foreign aid.

Furthermore, sector reform is a major issue for the Nigerian power supply. While no such reform has taken place as of yet, certain aspects have been targeted for improvement by the government. Areas of interest, such as, improving regulation within the industry, an increased framework to encourage the involvement of private investors, as well as, the enticement of industry competition among energy companies, are all among the Federal Ministry of Power’s top concerns. Another area of interest for sector reform is the implementation of tariffs on utilities that more accurately reflect the market, and subsequently lure private investors to take notice.

Nigeria’s current transmission network is lacking in a very basic way. The network is currently failing to transmit whatever power is being generated from the current sources to the intended destinations. Additionally, there have been an exceedingly high number of transmission loses, which certainly does not help the issue, in fact it only worsens the situation.

Another substantial challenge for Nigeria’s power sector is the ineffective method of billing and meter tracking. This issue is at the core of the Nigerian power sector. Without proper billing and metering procedures, it is practically impossible for there to be any further development and progress in the sector. Due to such continued inefficiency of billing and meter tracking, resulting in a consistent loss of revenue, the distribution companies (DISCOS) are not only failing to make any sort of profit, they are potentially losing substantial amounts of income, and investors are subsequently without any ROI.

As a proponent for improving the Nigerian power sector, myself, as well as, Worldwide Power Products feel that more should be done to make the necessary improvements. There needs to be a united front between the DISCOS, the generation companies (GENCOS), private investors, and the government, in order to see change. In other words, Nigeria needs help to supply adequate power to the nation as a whole. From DISCOS, such as Yola Distribution Company, to GENCOS, such as Sapele Generation Company, and agencies, including the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, the power sector needs reform.

Without question, the Nigerian power sector is in need of new and improved energy sources; diesel generators and natural gas generators are simply not going to meet the demand that certain parts of the country have, and currently rely upon. Not to mention, the money involved in diesel generator maintenance and the preventative maintenance involved is simply inefficient. While, the current Nigerian administration and other forms of government are making it a top priority to work on the challenges of policy reform to ultimately tap newer and better energy resources, increased capital is still greatly needed to make such a reality.

Luckily, the Federal Ministry of Power is taking on the many issues involving the country’s power supply. However, the key to the future success of the Nigerian power sector will likely depend a great deal on securing private investment funding. With the proper policies in place and the continued avocation by President Goodluck Jonathan, the Ministry of Power will hopefully get the power sector on track.

To this point, the Nigerian power sector has used government mandates, such as the 2001 National Electric Power Policy, and the more recent Power Sector Reform from Summer 2010, but the country needs more private investors. With the necessary improvements in the power sector, Nigeria hopes to become “one of the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020.” This is entirely possible, but as mentioned, there needs to be a further injection of funding from investors to the power sector.

At Worldwide Power Products we support the private investment in the Nigerian power sector and encourage all those interested to contact the Nigerian Ministry of Power.

Power Behind the Marine Transportation Industry

Behind most large vessels, there is at least one diesel generator providing the power needed to operate the boat. These generators offer backup power to large ships when they cannot get shore power, when the main power goes out, or in other situations where power is needed. While marine generators may have the same diesel engine found in other types of generators, there are some unique considerations in the marine transportation environment.

Types of Marine Generators

Marine vessel electrical loads can require from 5 kW to 5000 kW generator power, At Worldwide Power Products, we offer marine generator sets with ratings from 50-1500 kW. We also offer marine propulsion engines with ratings from 500 to 2500 horsepower.

If you’re considering purchasing a propulsion engine or generator set for your vessel marine generator for your vessel but are unsure of the power requirements, begin by adding up the all electrical loads. If you find that 750 kW of power covers all the equipment needs of the vessel, look for a generator set in that range. Many well-known power generation manufacturers offer marine generators and engines, including:

  • Caterpillar
  • Cummins Power Generation (formerly Cummins/Onan)
  • Kohler
  • MTU

How Marine Generators Work

In essence, these generators operate similar to their landed counterparts. They provide main and backup power for the vessel just as standby generators provide backup power for an office building when the power grid fails.

Marine Power Generation Equipment Challenges

There are challenges unique to the marine environment these units face, including:

  • Wet or moist environments
  • Cooling systems
  • Accessibility
  • Sound proofing

Generators operate continuously in very harsh marine environments. Over time, a generator that is exposed to these conditions can begin deteriorating quickly. A generator may look fine on the outside, but internally critical operating parts may be deteriorating rapidly. A failure could happen unexpectedly. Bottom line: There is no way to tell from looking at the unit whether it will operate when backup power is most needed.

How do manufacturers combat this disastrous effects of moisture over time? Quality manufacturers begin by using interior components that hold up better in wet environments and are less susceptible to corrosion. Generator insulation systems should be capable of resisting the effects of moisture, salt and abrasion. They should be built to NEMA Class H insulation standards.

Marine generators and engines use different kinds of cooling systems. Small pleasure craft engines and generators can rely on seawater for cooling. Most larger vessels will rely on two main types of cooling systems. Heat exchanger cooling incorporates a shell and tube type cooler. In a shell and tube heat exchanger, the engine coolant is cooled by the transfer of heat to another liquid at a lower temperature, usually seawater. Keel cooling is a simple, effective way of rejecting heat from the engine. In this system, the engine coolant is pumped through lengths of pipe that are submerged under and attached to the vessel.

Land-based generators often have more space around them that seafaring ones, which can make it easier to inspect the unit and perform routine maintenance. When considering a unit for a marine vessel, ensure that there will be adequate space onboard to clean the unit, refuel the unit, and perform safety inspections.

For equipment onboard passenger ships, ferries, and pleasure boats, a quiet operating system is a must. When reviewing specifications, look for units that have a quiet operating system or noise proofing enhancements. For example. marine generators from Kohler may have sound shields that help minimize noise.

From the smallest fishing vessel to the largest cruise ship or transportation ship, generators are a necessary part of ship operations. It’s important to choose a name you trust when looking for a marine generator or engine to support your offshore needs. At Worldwide Power Products, we are proud to offer highest caliber marine generator sets and marine engines and can help you choose the right unit for your needs and obtain financing.

The Role of Generators in Mining Chilean Copper

Approximately one-third of the Chilean government’s revenue comes from the country’s copper mines, according to National Geographic. The country holds nearly one-quarter of the world’s copper reserves. While other minerals like gold, silver, and aluminum are also mined in Chile, copper is the main attraction. In 2010, Chile produced 5390 metric tons of copper, a slight increase from 2009 production. Much of Chile’s copper is mined by the national copper mining company, Codelco; international firms account for some copper production. In 2011, Chile earned over $40 billion> from the mining industry as a whole and employed approximately 610,000 people directly and indirectly.

Because mines are often in remote sites, they often require access to natural gas pipelines or electric grids. Mining generators provide most of the mines’ operating power. In fact, diesel mining generators provide approximately 72 percent of power at mining sites, helping power drills, excavators, and shovels. Diesel is a favored fuel in the mining industry because it’s less volatile than natural gas.

Without generator power, miners would have to perform more of the difficult labor by hand. Not only would mining take longer, the supply and demand of these resources would become much more challenging. At Worldwide Power Products, we supply generators to mining companies in Chile and throughout South America. We offer a large inventory of both new and used generators, and are even able to help set up financing on the global market.

Relatively recent discoveries of copper deposits at Sur, near the Chilean capital of Santiago, could hold approximately 2.1 billion tons of copper ore, according to British mining conglomerate Anglo American. Through a 1978 deal, national firm Codelco gets the opportunity to exercise buy-in rights to Anglo American’s Chilean mining sites every three years. In October 2011, Codelco decided to buy in; however, executives low balled their offer, discounting the large Sur deposits. Not willing to let profit slip away, Anglo American turned around and made a better deal with Mitsubishi. The Sur conflict will be taken up by Chile’s legal system; the findings in this case could have implications for other international companies hoping to get in on the Chilean copper reserves.

The vastness of Chile’s resources guarantee copper mining for another century, and ensure the country a stable economy and good job prospects. With this wealth comes responsibility to operate mines safely. The second anniversary of the Chilean mine collapse occurred last week. Perhaps officials were lax in the past because copper plays such an important role for the country’s finances. Do you think Chile has learned the lessons from the mine collapse and is applying them correctly? Or do the legal woes spell a different headache for the South American powerhouse?