A new hybrid generator developed for construction sites promises to reduce energy bills for contractors and help them to meet their sustainability targets at the same time.
Start-on-demand technology and the fuel efficiencies that it can deliver ought to be familiar to the drivers of most modern hybrid cars.
You can identify the owners of these vehicles by the look of self-satisfaction that appears on their faces as they pull alongside you at a set of traffic lights and an automated clunk signals the fact that their engine has switched to energy efficient stand-by mode.
The technology might have taken slightly longer to percolate down to the construction industry, but JCB Power Products has now applied the lessons from the automotive sector to create a more efficient generator for building sites.
As with hybrid cars, the company’s Inteli-Hybrid Generator switches itself off if there is no demand for power, and automatically switches itself back on when demand ramps back up again.
It goes without saying that this could generate significant fuel and carbon savings on building sites with irregular energy demands and could help contractors to meet stringent sustainability targets mandated by their clients.
Mark Penny is head of sales at Energy Solutions, which co-developed the generator with JCB. He says the problem with most conventional generators is that they don’t respond well to
“Generators work very efficiently at the correct load,” he says. “If you’ve got a 100kW generator running at 50% load, it would be very fuel efficient , but once you start to drop below that load it would become inefficient and also require more servicing, which reduces the life of the generator.”
The Inteli-Hybrid overcomes this by having the ability to run off a rechargeable battery bank. As the generator is running normally, it bleeds off some of the excess power to charge up the cells in this bank.
“If you’ve got a 100kW generator running at 50% load, it would be very fuel efficient , but once you start to drop below that load it would become inefficient”
Mark Penny, Energy Solutions
Once the batteries are fully charged, it monitors the load of the generator and when it drops below 7kW, it will switch it off and provide all of the power by the inverter battery pack.
“It’s a seamless transfer - it monitors the loads and when they get too low for the generator, it then switches over to the inverter battery pack,” says Penny.
“It will just sit there happily until the batteries get depleted and then it will switch on the generator to recharge them. Once they’re recharged, in about three hours, it will switch off the generator and complete the whole cycle again.”
Penny says construction clients tend to run the generator during the day to power all of their systems and then use the battery bank at night.
“They might run a few security lights, a TV and a fridge overnight which are all very low loads,” he says.
The generator has a battery charge of 23 kWh of stored power but Penny says the energy savings it can deliver very much depend on the building site where it is being used.
“At worst, you’d be looking to run the generator four hours out of every 24,” he says.
“My favourite site, out of all of the clients we have so far worked with, had low loads during the day and the night.
“Traditionally they would have had to run a generator 24/7 but with our product they were using the battery pack for 18 to 20 hours a day.”