Diesel will very likely remain part of our off-grid energy mix for a long time to come. Generators are convenient, reliable and powerful – but there is no point feeding them more fossil fuel than they need. Tens of millions of liters of diesel are used every day worldwide in the telecommunications industry alone.
Wherever small diesel generators are used on “peaky” sites that need the generator to be sized for peak load, UltraBattery can typically make diesel operate more efficiently. Our products and software solutions have been field-proven to deliver this result on real-world, commercial client sites around the world.
Over two years in the field on this client’s remote site, we’ve recorded 92 percent battery efficiency and saved more than half the amount of diesel previously being used.
Case 1: A remote telecom tower powered purely by generator
On the face of it you wouldn’t expect that much saving would be possible in this situation. The tower needs a certain amount of energy and, whichever way you slice it, the generator has to provide that energy.
But generators are frequently oversized to allow for future growth or for the occasional peak load, so they rarely run at their most efficient operating point. And it’s expensive to send refuelers and technicians out to service a generator in the field.
On a single-generator microgrid, the generator is switched on all the time, spending most of its time at low-efficiency output – near the bottom of its power curve.
UltraBattery can charge ultra-fast, and is designed so that the generator can be switched off most of the time and, when it is on, run at its rated power so that it operates at its peak efficiency.
The outcome on site
While UltraBattery easily handles high-voltage grid applications, it is also perfectly suited to safe extra-low-voltage (SELV) applications. With UltraBattery, seriously high power is available at 48 V.
It has a non-combustible chemistry and it is housed in a proprietary super-tough, flame-retardant plastic casing.
It is also fully sustainable, like all batteries in the lead-acid family. In fact, with 98% of lead-acid batteries returned for reprocessing, and 96% by mass of each returned battery used to make new batteries, lead-acid batteries are not only the most sustainable battery type by far, they’re actually the most sustainable product of any type ever mass manufactured.
Case 2: A remote micro-grid with diesel and renewables
For commercial clients where loads are critical, it is usually very difficult to make renewable energy spread out over 24 hours.
Morning load peaks usually come just after sunrise (when sunlight is minimal), and evening peaks come after sunset. A lot of photovoltaic (PV) and battery power are therefore needed to make the sunlight stretch out between these two peaks.
However, with UltraBattery and two renewable sources (e.g. PV and wind, or PV and micro-hydro), we have seen highly diesel-dependent sites become almost diesel-free.
By modifying our algorithms and rethinking our battery operation, we have seen diesel use drop from frequent random operation to around 10 minutes per month.
Case 3: The high power user
An onsite generator such as one used on a construction site to power a post-hole digger, pump or crane with a large but infrequent power draw may be sized at 25 or 30 kW.
Much of the time this mini power station might only be called on to power a few lights, run the lunchroom fridge, keep some computers going, charge a bunch of drill batteries and run the occasional power saw.
This means that an average load of just a few kilowatts is supplied by a 30 kW generator running at very low efficiency. It may only be used at its rated power a few times a day.
An UltraBattery system can allow the same site to run using either a large generator running infrequently or a small generator running more frequently. In each case the generator runs at peak efficiency only for the short time it takes to top up the fast-charging UltraBattery bank. When the high-powered equipment is used the UltraBattery system delivers the power required.
PV is an optional extra – with or without it, the result is a cheaper, quieter and greener site.