5 (more) differences between diesel generators and mobile batteries
Last year, we talked about some of the most important differences between diesel generators and mobile batteries to know about. However, that list was just a short overview of the most important differences to give you an idea of what to consider when making a choice. To expand on the last blog post about this topic (which you can read here), we will present five other differences: maintenance, data, applications, combination with sustainable energies, and ease of use. The blog posts present examples of advantages and disadvantages, which can differ according to your own situation. Both products have their own place in the market and there is not one answer to all energy questions, but the basic knowledge presented can help you with finding the right solution.
To ensure reliability of a diesel generator, regular check-ups are necessary. This is mainly due to the mechanical aspect of the diesel generator. Important aspects to be checked for a diesel generator include fluids, such as the engine oil, lubricants, and coolants used in the cooling system. Additionally, the fuel and engine systems of the generator should be checked. With diesel fuel being hazardous by nature, checking the piping regularly for any leaks or loose hoses is equally important. Depending on the type and quality of diesel fuel, issues such as reduced lubrication and high amounts of condensed water can occur. Also, diesel generators are equipped with batteries, which require maintenance, such as cleaning, regular testing and checking the electrolyte level. Batteries, which are not kept on optimal charge can commonly cause the power system to fail. Last, but not least, the exhaust of the machine needs to be checked to prevent leaks. While in general, a generator needs to be cleaned and regularly used to keep lubrication high, many smaller tasks add to the general maintenance of diesel generators.
With mobile batteries, the maintenance is minimal since there are no mechanical and moving parts. Regular check-ups are not the rule, but the exception. The part of a mobile battery, which might need more attention, is normally the air-conditioning or, if included, also the liquid-cooling system. Additionally, notifications for any unusual activity and values will be available through the remote monitoring system to prevent eventual problems. However, it also must be acknowledged that the software component of the battery can be an issue because software malfunctioning can lead to problems. With a battery, there is a dependence on the computer and software working instead of a dependence on the mechanical parts of a machine. So, while there are problems, which can occur with mobile batteries, such as a declining number of charge cycles after years of use, no regular maintenance is required. If you want to know more about the different parts of a mobile battery, read our blog post about mobile batteries and their inner workings.
For gensets, this aspect is very dependent on the type of diesel generator used. Some newer diesel generators will include a software, which records different data points, such as the load and the fuel usage. However, in many cases no exact data on electricity peaks or real-time data is available. Different manufacturers and service companies will have their own offers in this regard, but in general the data offered is currently not a standard option.
The mobile battery includes smart features like peak shaving, which requires measuring data. Therefore, this data can be used for different goals and is displayed in different systems. These insights, as well as the types of data will differ according to the manufacturer and the software implemented in the battery. For the purpose of an example, we will take a look at the data management systems Greener Power Solutions uses and how this data can be used by clients.
Powerplan is the planning software of Greener Power Solutions, specifically for big events and festivals (possibly for more diverse user cases in the future). Before setting up a project, an accurate overview of the necessary electricity and the available electricity is important. Powerplan forecasts the future energy consumption and the most efficient set-up of power zones for future events. This can in turn save money when smaller diesel generators can be rented, or the available grid connection turns out to be sufficient for the needed electricity. Therefore, Powerplan ensures that the optimal set-up is chosen for the future project with the help of historical data, as well as the collected data from over 150 reference projects.
Energy Management System (EMS)
Once the optimal set-up is determined, the mobile battery is set-up on location. The mobile battery can be used to charge and discharge electricity. Therefore, the battery is the center of a smart grid, and the internal computer takes care of the coordination of all energy sources, electrical equipment, and other components, such as charging stations. The data recorded by the mobile battery is therefore used by the EMS to optimize the power supply and achieve the highest possible reductions of CO2 emissions and diesel fuel used.
While the mobile battery itself uses the data for optimal usage of all components of the smart grid, Greener Power Solutions also provides 24/7 real-time and historical insights into the data on Greener Projects. The online software platform includes for instance data about the generated power, power consumption and the state of charge of batteries. Data is displayed in the form of different dashboards and through an integration with a chatbot for Telegram, regular updates can be received on the phone. With this software application, customers can stay up to date on the status of the project and analyze the performance.
After each project, the client will receive a short report on their savings. This normally includes the set-up of the project, the saved running hours, CO2, and nitrogen emissions. Furthermore, insights into the daily energy consumption are included. These reports serve as a comparison to the project fully running on diesel generators and thus gives an overview on how sustainable the solution can be. As explained in our last blog post about this topic, when talking about the stand-by consumption of diesel generators, this consumption can be high and inefficient depending on the load of the generator during running hours. Therefore, the combination of a battery with a genset can achieve high savings of running hours and in turn fuel when ensuring that the diesel generator only runs when necessary.
All this data can be used for future optimization, as well as to have extensive knowledge of the power zones, which can be mandatory to receive permits or to prove a clean energy supply.
With the different applications of data explained, it is clear that data plays an important role in giving the customer the full control on their energy supply and consumption. With more companies committing to sustainable energies, the data recordings and data analysis are expected to only increase in importance in the future.
Whenever power is needed quickly and no other energy source is available, diesel gensets are used. This can be as a back-up generator for hospitals, commercial companies, manufacturing companies, data centers and the electricity grid. As a primary energy source, gensets are used in places where no grid connection or other energy sources are available. This can be the case for festivals, construction projects, oil and gas exploration and mining. The low volatility and in turn high safety of diesel generators paired with their compact and portable size provide a suitable energy source for many types of markets.
With mobile batteries, similarly many different user cases are possible. Some application areas for mobile batteries are:
- Quiet energy: The level of noise on construction sites can easily exceed healthy levels. With a battery this is not a problem, and it can prevent noise disturbances for all participating parties, as well as surrounding residents.
- Clean energy without emissions: Especially for events, construction sites in the middle of the city or other user cases, which can impact residents, customers and guest, mobile batteries can be a fitting solution. Emissions are prevented and therefore, no diesel smell is in the air.
- Peak shaving: Leveraging power is the biggest advantage of mobile batteries. A battery can be used as a buffer to charge with the available energy when generated and release when there is demand for it. For instance, a small grid connection can in some cases be sufficient to provide energy for an event, when a battery is peak shaving.
- Congestion control: In this case, the battery can help to balance a power zone or part of the electricity grid. For instance, a neighborhood which struggles with power outages in the evening when all residents go to charge their electric cars can use a battery as a solution to provide additional power for these peaks when necessary.
- Combination with electric vehicle (EV) chargers: Since a mobile battery can provide high levels of power, a combination with AC and DC chargers is possible. Especially for events without a grid connection or as a temporary grid reinforcement, batteries can be advantageous. Additionally, EV chargers are used with sustainability in mind, which is why a clean-energy battery fits well in this user case.
- FCR/aFRR services: The mobile batteries can be used for grid balancing services as Frequency Containment Reserves (FCR). This is similar to congestion control, but on a larger scale, namely the whole electricity grid. In the case of Greener batteries, they are tested for FCR (R1) and aFRR (R2) bidding. For this purpose, they need be able to balance the grid within a maximum of 30 seconds and a maximum of five minutes respectively. Therefore, grid imbalances can be eliminated with the help of this technology.
- Improve power quality: By using a battery, power quality can be optimized. Due to a low power factor and high amounts of reactive power, power quality can be low and inefficient. This reactive power can be either inductive or capacitive depending on whether the load is negative or positive. With the help of the included converter, the battery can ensure that the power quality is increased during conversion and leads to high active load.
Batteries can also be connected to one or multiple energy sources. Additionally, multiple batteries can be used in combination for different tasks or as a back-up option.
Applications in combination with sustainable power
For sustainable energies, a diesel generator is of lower relevance since a generator already produces energy. It could, however, come in handy as a back-up generator in some cases. This is due to sustainable energies being reliant on external factors, such as the sun or the wind and therefore not being perfectly predictable.
The World Economic Forum announced energy storage as a key factor for the use of sustainable energies. Batteries are therefore one of the important technologies used to achieve that goal of expanding on energy storage (Masterson, 2021).
In general, a battery can be used to store the generated energy and release it at a later point. This technology helps to shave the electricity peaks and in turn bridges any electricity dips in low energy generation times. A mobile battery is therefore perfectly suited for a combination with sustainable energies, such as solar panels and wind turbines. With batteries as energy storage, electricity demand can be catered to, when necessary, with sustainably generated energy. This is especially important for solar and wind energy, which can fluctuate greatly during the day and year (Katz, 2020).
Ease of use
Keeping a diesel generator running, once it started, is easy. If the supply of diesel fuel is ensured, there should not be a problem. And with most diesel generators, the control panel includes basic user options, such as a turn-on and switch-off button. Often a manual and auto mode are included and basic information about the measured output current and voltage can be available. With newer diesel gensets, an option to turn the engine on and off remotely may be available requiring a connection to Wi-Fi.
In general, the usage of a mobile batteries is also simple and of course differs depending on the type of battery and brand. Through choosing pre-determined system modes, such as “peak shaving”, “standby” or “buffer”, the battery automatically controls the input and output. In the case of Greener Power Solutions, a tablet with a Human-Machine-Interface (HMI) is included, so the control of the battery on site is easy. This HMI also includes basic information about the input, output, and state of charge to give an overview to the user. While the HMI provides control on-site, through an integration with the messenger Telegram, you can give commands remotely to the battery. Commands can also be given through the Greener Projects platform.
We hope to have inspired you with this blog post to think about your energy supply in a different way than you did before. While it is easy to look at monetary savings or the actual visible emissions of a product, many more aspects should be considered when choosing energy supply (or anything else for that matter). All products and solutions have their advantages and disadvantages, so it is even more important to be well-informed when making a choice in order for it to be the right one.
Did you find this blog post interesting, but do you wish it was longer? Read our first blog post about this topic, which introduces five crucial differences between diesel generators and mobile batteries you should know about.
 Link to the article: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/04/renewable-energy-storage-pumped-batteries-thermal-mechanical/
 Link to the article: https://e360.yale.edu/features/in-boost-for-renewables-grid-scale-battery-storage-is-on-the-rise