Integrated generator set (genset) manufacturer Cummins Africa has launched the QSK95 series – a new range of high-horsepower gensets to help industrial and mining customers across Africa lower their fuel costs and reduce their environmental impact.
“The QSK95 gensets are Cummins Power Generation’s most powerful diesel gensets to date, offering up to 3.5 MVA 60 Hz and 3.75 MVA 50 Hz,” says Cummins Africa power solutions director Kenneth Gaynor.
The gensets are suitable for standby or continuous power supply for the mining, oil and gas, and heavy industry sectors, as well as for breweries or any projects operating in harsh conditions and challenging environments that require reliable and continuous remote power.
The QSK95 series is engineered to deliver reliable, mission-critical power protection without interruption – an uptime requirement shared by data centres and hospitals, as well as water and wastewater treatment plants, besides other features.
The Cummins genset QSK95 was first introduced to the local market in February at the 2015 Investing in African Mining Indaba, which took place in Cape Town, and the unit was later displayed internationally at power and energy exhibition the Middle East Electricity Show in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, in March.
Gaynor explains that the gensets are engineered with the highest kilowatt-per-square-foot ratio in their class, resulting in a smaller physical footprint that achieves a 20% improvement in power density. Owing to this smaller footprint, the QSK95 series requires less space to install and, in multiple-genset applications, fewer generators are required to achieve the necessary power output, he adds.
Definite potential to convert the genset’s fuel from diesel to alternate fuels, such as gas, also exists, Gaynor notes.
Meanwhile, Cummins Southern Africa power generation director Kobus Coetzer points out that the new gensets have more power and best-in-class fuel economy.
During 8 000 hours of operation, the QSK95 series can achieve fuel savings of more than R4-million a year; the gensets can also lower the total cost of ownership by reducing installation expenses and maintenance requirements, he notes.
Gaynor adds that fewer maintenance requirements, longer service intervals and the 25 000-hour operational period before a major overhaul is required to make these gensets ideal for prime power applications. Further, the generators accept 100% of rated load in a single step and are ready to accept facility load in less than ten seconds.
“Power demand in mining and heavy industries has increased in the past ten years, owing to increased production, which creates the need for more power in smaller compact power plants,” he highlights.
This need forms part of industry demand for economic fuel consumption, fuel cost reductions, product reliability and sufficient support to maintain the equipment’s operation ability.
Meanwhile, Gaynor believes that Africa faces a significant challenge in that local engineering and technical skills have not kept pace with the growth in the power sector across the continent.
“Historically, utilities and State organisations in Africa used to train artisans and conduct trade tests to certify technicians and artisans. This created a sustainable pool of technical skills in many countries. In several cases, this practice has ceased. Now, the onus is on the private sector and original-equipment manufacturers to create a pool of qualified tradesmen and technicians,” he says.
Cummins, therefore, ensures that it trains and upskills local staff as part of the company’s strategy is to build and enhance local competence, says Gaynor, adding that the company has five fully-fledged technical training centres across Africa, in South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco and Nigeria. “The support and backup of the power plant is as important as the original capital expenditure decision,” he says.Continental Concern Meanwhile Gaynor notes,
the need for generators to provide standby and/or continuous power has become more substantial and prevalent in Africa, as several countries – particularly Ghana and South Africa – are experiencing electricity instability, with cases of load-shedding, while others lack a main electricity grid, he says.
“Currently, there are few African countries where security of power supply is not a key concern. As security of power supply has worsened, more industry boards and mining companies have taken note of this issue, listing it as a key risk in their business risk profile.”
Gaynor emphasises that it is incumbent upon companies to manage this risk.
In February, research and consulting firm EY highlighted a new risk in its ‘Business risks facing mining and metals 2014/15’ report, which ranks business risks for the mining and metal industries internationally. The risk of inadequate access to water and energy is ranked tenth among the top ten business risks.
Although he suggests that the security of power supply might improve over the medium term, Gaynor believes the power supply will struggle to keep up with demand.
“Moreover, with expansion on the cards for the African continent, particularly in terms of mining and infrastructure projects, demand will increase and will potentially outstrip supply,” he predicts.