Improvements in diesel engine and powerhouse control technologies have reduced air pollution, noise, increased fuel efficiency over a wide range of load conditions.
Increases in diesel generation efficiency can generally be found in three broad areas.
1. Increasing the amount of electricity (kW) produced per gallon of diesel consumed by the generator engine
2. Recovering heat from the engine water jacket cooling system and, if applicable, from the engine exhaust stack
3. Minimizing losses in the electrical distribution system
A more detailed breakdown with categories, related technologies, and potential gains is shown in the graphic on the right.
Diesel Engine Controls
Tighter control over the fuel systems provided by electronic fuel injection, electronic speed governors, and electronic engine controllers has boosted the usable kWh per gallon of diesel. Efficiency improvements of 10% - 15% over the older mechanically governed engines have been achieved in over 25 rural powerhouses upgraded by AEA.
Powerhouse Switchgear Controls
Advances in powerhouse switchgear control for the automatic dispatch of the most efficient generator or combination of generators to closely match changes in the village load demand throughout the day have allowed efficiency increases of an additional 10% - 20%.
These next two graphics are computer screen captures of the Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) interface utilized in modern powerhouses. Notice that this one is a diesel-hydro hybrid. Programmable switchgear controls facilitate more efficient coordination with renewable and alternative energy sources of electrical power like diesel/hydro and diesel/wind hybrid power systems.
Screen images of diesel engine controls.
Additional benefits of new switchgear
- Automatic recovery from power outages
- Automatic dispatch of available alternative energy sources
- Data acquisition, historical data downloads for utility planning, energy engineering and research
- Remote monitoring for faster, more efficient troubleshooting
Heat Recovery Technologies
There have been significant improvements in recovering the otherwise wasted heat that is given off by diesel engines. This excess heat can be used for space heating of community buildings or augmented electrical power generation. To learn more about these technologies, go to the heat recovery technologies page.