The importance of the role of diesel, gas-fired and solar power generation in applications ranging from 20kVA to 3000kVA in the economies of South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa as far as telecommunications, mining, health services and other infrastructural development in remote areas are concerned, cannot be overestimated.
Dave Warren, manager generator sales at Randburg-based power generation solutions specialist Master Power Technologies (MPT), says demand is increasing for generator installations as pervasive technologies such as cellular telephone networks and services gather momentum in Southern Africa and further north in sub-Saharan Africa.
“We have developed hybrid solutions for the telecommunications industry based on combinations of solar and diesel power generation to provide 48V direct current through inverters and rectifiers in remote areas where no conventional power supply grid exists.”
Power requirements for the cellular telecommunications industry are regularly increasing as a result of the exponential growth in the number of network users in South Africa and further north.
MPT has provided locally manufactured fit-for-purpose generators rated up to 3000kVA to meet the bespoke needs of South African cellular phone service providers and other solutions including diesel and methane gas powered generators for mining operations in remote areas. The company also sources large generators manufactured by Himionsa and can offer solutions rated at up to 50MVA in multiple units that provide a power station configuration.
“There is no shortage of methane gas as a power generation feedstock in Southern Africa,” says Warren. “There are major gas fields in neighbouring Botswana and Mozambique and gas power will by next year be cheaper than Eskom power. It is encouraging that gas powered generators are already in the field providing mains power sources, including one 20MW station.”
Another area where MPT provides turnkey solutions is in the field of mini-power stations rated from 5-40MW using diesel-driven generator sets in standby roles. Typically these solutions are sought by mining ventures in remote areas.
“Growth in the South African generator market has been spectacular over the past three years,” adds Warren. “ Between 2008 and 2009 the 37 players in the market became 400 and from 2010 to 2011 it increased from 400 t0 700, heralding the arrival of many Chinese generator products and systems. Many of these operations are confined to the small or consumer end of the market and for the major players, project consultants remain a major source of business.”
Another string in the MPT bow is its agency and distributorship for 600 – 2000kVA diesel driven rotary UPS products manufactured by Hitec in Holland. Offering 99.999% reliability, they have found applications in the telecommunisations and cellular network industries.
“Hitec has deployed high technology to develop a highly efficient, flywheel-based and battery-free integrated UPS and generator system that is both compact and robust and ideal for cellular and telecomms industry redundancy requirements,” says Warren.
“We have a number of these solutions installed in South Africa and the technology also has applications in military organisations which similarly require high levels of redundancy for some of their systems.”
Other potential growth markets for Master Power Technology’s turnkey generator solutions include banking, general commerce and industry, health services, defence and major rural development projects.