Off-grid energy solutions power Africa

Power generators can help businesses and households to keep the lights on.

With more than 600 million people in African lacking access to lean, affordable, reliable energy, new technological developments such as off-grid solutions are becoming increasingly important.Cummins Power Generation specialises in the design and manufacture of pre-integrated generator sets from 8 kVA to 3 300 kVA.

Off-grid solutions are based on the specific needs of the operation or application in question, classed generally as either ‘standby’ or ‘prime’. As the name suggests, ‘standby’ provides power in the event of grid failure, which means the duty is far lower. A light application, for example, would require a generator designed for around 20 to 40 hours of operation a month.

‘Prime’ solutions are entirely separate from the national grid, and supply load power on a 24/7 basis. “This option requires considerably better planning and far greater investment, as the entire outcome of the operation depends on the power supply,” Cummins Power Generation Director Kenny Gaynor comments.

“The genset needs to be specified precisely. This means the most important aspect to take into consideration is the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or supplier. Product quality, parts availability, aftersales service, and technical capability are paramount to success. If one aspect fails, the entire project fails,” Gaynor stresses.

As part of its off-grid offering, Cummins Power Generation provides a full and comprehensive range of services, including conceptualisation, design, construction, installation, commissioning, operation, and maintenance. Due to the complex and intricate nature of such solutions, a dedicated Cummins expert is assigned to oversee all aspects of the project, including the training of relevant customer personnel.

“It is essential that a competent expert is on-site 24/7, as only a few minutes of power outage can result in millions of rands in lost production. Cummins also stocks essential parts on-site to ensure minimal downtime. Unfortunately, not all parts can be kept on-site. To ensure minimal disruption, Cummins boasts a comprehensive logistics supply chain to ensure that any part reaches site in the shortest possible turnaround times,” Gaynor concludes.