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Temporary power systems will make a comeback in 2019

Regional temporary power suppliers will grow as the Middle East 'recovers' from the slowdown of 2016

Himoinsa is one of the world’s largest suppliers of gensets.
© Himoinsa
Himoinsa is one of the world’s largest suppliers of gensets.

Much like cranes, temporary power units – such as generator sets (gensets) – are viewed by many as indicators of a construction market’s health.

New data shows that the Middle East’s genset sector is poised for growth as the regional industry “recovers” from the slowdown of 2016. A report launched in January 2019 by market analyst firm Big Market Research stated: “The manufacturing and construction industry is significantly rising and recovering from the slowdown that occurred in the year 2016, and is expected to fuel the demand for rental power solutions.

“In the Middle East region, Saudi Arabia is anticipated to be the fastest growing country considering the temporary power market.”

The last 12 months have been particularly significant for genset suppliers in the Middle East – in May 2018, Chicago Pneumatic made the first sale of its CPSG range of generators in Egypt. The company’s authorised dealer for the country, Arak Heavy Equipment, received two orders from Nile for Roads and New Sharm Contracting – both government-held firms. In total, Chicago Pneumatic delivered 590 CPSG gensets to both firms, according to PMV Middle East, a sister title of Construction Week.

READ: Top 10 GCC projects due to open in 2019

Big Market Research’s report lists Atco Power, Ashtead Group, Cummins, Caterpillar, RSS, and Trinity Power Rentals as some of the world’s largest players in the temporary power market. Another equally significant company in the sector is Aggreko, the global temporary power systems giant that has previously worked on Middle East schemes such as Dubai Metro and with clients like Saudi Electricity Company. Today, the firm has at least 14 sites with 40-90 megawatt average capacity within its Saudi portfolio alone.

In December 2018, Aggreko was awarded a contract worth $200m to deliver temporary power for the sites of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. According to the BBC, Aggreko’s Japan subsidiary will deliver power for 43 competition venues, plus the event’s broadcast centre and athletes’ village.

The road ahead

Efficiencies are already a critical consideration for procurement officials across the GCC’s construction and related industries, and the push for energy- and cost-optimised supplies will only intensify in 2019. However, as genset giant Himoinsa explained last month, low-load profiles can negatively impact gensets, in turn causing operational failures for their users on construction sites.

Endothermic engines used in gensets are designed to use as much power as possible, from 30-100% of the rated maximum, but the actual engine load depends on the power that the installation demands. The engine and its components are primarily designed to operate in the high-load or ‘power’ range, rather than in continuous low load mode.

Operating uninterruptedly in low-load mode can lead to higher oil consumption, and consequently, increase the deposit of carbonised oil or oil residue in the engine, as well as in the suction and exhaust system. The emergence and persistence of residue have a negative impact on the engine’s functional performance and lifetime. Consequently, maintenance tasks – and costs – tend to increase. In addition, an engine operating in low-load mode tends to cool down with use, which means that the fuel is only partially burned. This can, in turn, produce white smoke with high hydrocarbon emissions.

READ: Saudi and UAE contract awards to top $320bn in 2019

Frequent and continued use of generator sets with power loads of less than 30% of the maximum power value can lead to failures over time, such as increase of exhaust smoke; excessive wear of and oil leaks in the body of the turbocharger; increased pressure in the gearbox and the crankcase; excessive deposit of carbon residue on the surfaces of the valves, valve seats, pistons, and the exhaust manifold; and the hardening of the surfaces of the cylinder liners.

Speaking to PMV Middle East at the time, Himoinsa recommended that low-load genset operation is restricted to 15 minutes. According to the report, the company also said that gensets must be operated for “several hours at full load” to ensure their engine is cleaned up – or, carbonised oil deposits from the engine and exhaust system are removed.

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Construction Week - Issue 746
Jul 20, 2019