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Question

What is the best design under which a Genset diesel power plant can be hybrid to reduce cost of energy per kWh?

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  • Mar 14, 2022
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Unless the genset is the only power source, and it is the only option to produce electricity, we desperately need to rethink the use of fossil fueled gensets as a backup electricity source.  The sophistication in battery systems is growing daily with various chemical variations and actual nature of the storage technology. Battery systems now work at large scale and can be designed to meet almost any need.  Simple energy storage technologies like pumping water into a water tower during the day and letting the water flow through a small turbine to produce electricity when needed is an example.  Fossil fueled gensets pollute like crazy and need to become a thing of the past.  Battery systems will support the lowest life cycle cost per kWh.

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Mar 15, 2022

Easy the GenSet has to be Solar, Hydro and Battery Storage. End of problem. 

There are good reasons one might want to parallel a diesel genset with battery storage. John Benson gives a good one: simply to allow periods of peace and quiet between times when a noisy generator is running. But if it's a big commercial operation or a rural village that the genset is serving, I don't think adding storage to allow operation as a hybrid will do anything for the specific cost of energy.

Diesel engines inherently have a pretty wide throttling range over which they maintain efficiency. They're well suited for load following -- especially when coupled to an alternator-style generator that can maintain stable output voltage and frequency over variable rotation speeds. Operating as a hybrid won't do much to reduce fuel consumption per kWh of output.

It depends on the scale. I've thought about residential scale since I have a second home in the forest that is heavily shaded (photovoltaic would not work very well). I would guess that the easiest way to turn a "back-up" generator to hybrid operation would be with a Tesla Powerwall. Go through the link below.

https://www.tesla.com/support/energy/powerwall/learn/combining-systems

If the generator is intended to run full time, and/or is a larger unit, the same basic design applies, but you probably need to get a professional (electrical engineer) involved.

-John

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