Balanced Energy Mix

India’s energy situation was precarious. Energy experts estimated that about 300 million people in India had no access to electricity, and that the demand for energy in the country was consistently outstripping the supply. Energy authorities feared for the worst as electricity requirement during months of peak consumption was expected to exploit the country’s thin energy capacity.

Recognizing the situation’s need for an urgent resolution, the country has ventured into ambitious renewable energy generation projects that could potentially instill balance and reliability to India’s mix of energy sources. Now, India is said to have the fifth-largest power generation portfolio and is touted to be the fifth largest wind energy producer in the world. Power generation from renewable sources in the country is on the rise. In 2013, the share of renewable power in the country’s total energy mix accounted for 12.3%, up from 7.8% in 2012. Wind power accounts for 68% of the aforementioned percentage, with an installed capacity of 19.1 GW. India has also entered into small hydropower, biomass and solar energy generation.

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Drivers for growth of renewable energy generation
India’s economy is now enjoying an upturn, with growth rates predicted to peak at 6% in the coming years. With the expanding economy come the growth in urbanization and the rise in per capita energy consumption. As electricity requirements in the country increases, expenses from importing fossil fuel for power generation proportionally spikes. In this light, government authorities in India deemed to encourage the country’s transition from fossil-based energy options to renewable sources through offering various incentives, such as tax holidays and generation-based incentives (GBIs).
When technologies were gradually rolled out, renewable energy proved to be increasingly cost-competitive compared to fossil-based power. Renewable sources were also considered to be highly scalable and distributed, thus alternative power generation became justifiable in the electrification of remote areas, which may have deficiency in power grid and road infrastructure.

With renewable energy generation becoming an attractive endeavor for foreign and local investors alike, India’s government created a liberal environment for investment in renewable energy projects.

Some challenges ahead
India is now among the world leaders in renewable energy generation. While the process holds much potential, there are some observed challenges that are yet to be resolved by the country.

Experts on the ground reveal that one of the obstacles to the proliferation of renewable energy facilities, particularly that of wind and solar, is the perceived insufficiency in the strict employment of renewable purchase obligations (RPOs), which is said to be limiting the demand for power from renewable energy sources. Constraints in transmission infrastructure is also a salient hindrance, because, owing to this, only a limited amount of generated power reaches the grid. Economic factors, like a weak Indian Rupee and delays in payment, also put pressure on project financing and investor interest, respectively.

Perhaps the most striking disadvantage of utilizing renewable energy sources, say experts, is their unpredictability and apparent instability. As wind or solar power generation facilities depend on nature to run, it may be difficult to forecast its performance, which is of particular importance in critical applications. While highly sophisticated prediction equipment is available, it cannot be 100% reliable, and weather disturbances or aberrations can still happen. In cases when there is not enough natural “fuel” to run renewable generation facilities, the areas to which they supply could suffer from load shedding or rolling blackouts. Additionally, in peak summer months or in the coldest winter months when climate control systems are usually in full blast, renewable energy plants can potentially be overwhelmed by the demand if not enough impetus enters the systems.

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The need for an energy “safety net”
For a burgeoning country like India, the solution to sustaining economic growth and energy viability may not be simply ascribed to one single source of power. It has been documented that the country’s existing traditional permanent power infrastructure may encounter some difficulties in supporting India’s power demands in a variety of contexts, hence the effort that the country is exerting to make inroads into renewable energy generation. While the new technologies may hold water, total immersion into the new paradigm may take time, as shown by the range of legislative and economic considerations that still present themselves as impediments to alternative energy growth. Renewable technologies are on their way to progress and advancement, as research and development endeavors are well encouraged by the Indian powers that be. Improvement, however, may not happen overnight, and as it unravels, renewable energy facilities may find merit it taking in support from stable and tested technologies, like rental power systems.

Rental generators may be able to supplement the existing power generated by traditional and renewable sources of energy. They can act as an energy “safety net”, preventing electricity levels from falling beyond what is acceptable and productive. These rental generator sets are equipped with state-of-the-art fast-start systems that allows them to supply the needed power at the shortest possible time, in cases of instability from other sources of electricity.

Interim energy technologies also represents a cost-effective immediate solution to power supply shortages, as they do not require sizable initial capital to be acquired. India, as a country looking to increase its expenditure in renewable sources in years to come, may find benefit in this attribute, as renting power generators would not entail denting a country’s budget or restructuring financial resources allocated to other services.

Because they are modular and flexible, temporary generators can also be installed where renewable energy facilities find most appropriate applications. Rental power systems can be easily delivered from any point on Earth to another and, owing to its easy, plug-and-play configuration, can be started in as short as few days.

With rental power plants on board, the perceived limitations of traditional and renewable energy sources can be overcome, and the power can be bridged until the other sources regain their stability. In this context, temporary power plants find their maximum benefit in being used as supplementary or back-up power while permanent energy facilities are being constructed or refurbished, or when alternative energy sources are being advanced and improved.

The key to power is balance
Having a balanced energy mix may be the key to a sustained economic, political and social stability. As countries like India enjoy an economic upturn, growth industries, such as manufacturing, utilities and oil & gas, should be expected to consume large sums of energy. With limited resources, it may be difficult for a country to rein in energy consumption at the expense of economic opportunities. What developing countries need are support systems – like what rental power plants are for energy sustainability. As India maps its road to energy stability, temporary electricity generation facilities are available to support the country’s existing infrastructure to produce continuous and reliable electricity needed to power the country’s future.

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*The foregoing article is based on what was originally published in the September 2014 issue of EPC&I magazine, Northern Lights Communications, India.*


Robert Bagatsing
Altaaqa Global
Tel: +971 56 1749505

Using Power to Change the Future

One of the great thinkers in the modern history of the world, Abraham Lincoln, once said that the best way to predict the future was to create it. Change is inevitable, and we, humans, are constantly faced with the options of either effecting the change ourselves or being subject to the result of some other factor’s change.

Lincoln’s world-famous quote asserts that we have a say in what the future will hold for us, and that proactivity, as opposed to reactivity, will offer us our desired results.

This citation holds true till this very day, and still finds application in almost all facets of life. Each and every day, we, our relatives, our companies and even our governments are confronted with the compulsion to make decisions, selecting one or the other, to move forward. Oftentimes, the decision of the greater elements of the society sets off a domino effect, trickling the repercussion down to the nucleus. There may also be instances when the effects of the choices of the citizens escalate to the powers that be. In most cases, the relationship between the components of a society may not linear – there may be a constant push-and-pull or imposition-and-retaliation, or, at best, demand-and-submission.

Let us contextualize the foregoing discussion and throw the spotlight on the present energy situation in the Middle East. Let us examine the scenario through the prism of “choices”, and study how a marginal shift in behavior, say, leads to encompassing and durative effects.

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Power at home
It may be hard to argue that it is the choice of the residents of the Middle East to raise the temperatures during summer to as high as 50°C, or more, at times. We may also consider that putting on air conditioners is a foregone conclusion, otherwise the living conditions will be utterly unbearable. We may say, however, that they have a choice in which AC unit to buy, or in considering the lifecycle cost of an electric product instead of its first cost. We could also be excused in saying that they also have a choice in how to take advantage of the power subsidy that they get from their governments, and on ascertaining how much electricity is essentially needed in their daily lives.

Studies cite that Saudis, for example, use nine times more electricity than the citizens of the four largest Arab countries. An individual in Saudi Arabia consumes around 8,200 kilowatt in an hour compared to an average 951 kilowatt an hour by an individual from Egypt, Algeria, or Morocco. Moreover, energy consumption per individual in Saudi Arabia was observed to have risen by three per cent in 2011 and by nine per cent in 2012. In the entire energy mix, the housing sector was estimated to be responsible for consuming 50% of the country’s total energy production.

To which, however, can one attribute this dizzying energy consumption average? Though not absolute, energy industry experts ascribe a large part the high electricity consumption to the poor energy efficiency of AC systems that the citizens of the region ultimately bring home. HVAC systems consume approximately 51% of all electricity production in the region, and this can reach up to 70% during the summer months. A considerable number of AC systems on offer are observed to have low energy efficiency ratios (EERs) despite the presence and promotion of energy efficiency standards in Middle Eastern countries. In most cases, air conditioners with low EERs are the cheapest, attracting buyers to give premium to the price they see on the tag than to the number of stars rating the performance of the unit.

What most users are not aware of is that, though units with higher EER are more expensive, they run more efficiently, reducing monthly power consumption, thus reflecting as less billed electricity. More technologically advanced units also operate longer without the need for repair or servicing, thereby cutting on maintenance costs.

Power in the country
To support the region’s daily electricity consumption, countries use an estimated millions of barrels of oil a day – notably one of the highest in the world.

Industry experts observe that the upward trend in the regional power demand is owing to the fact that most of the Middle Eastern countries’ development is based on energy-intensive industries, like construction, manufacturing, water desalination and oil & gas. The region’s economic conditions are also highly attractive to expatriates and foreign businesses, which causes the Middle East’s population to spike. Due to the region’s unique climate, residents in the Middle East live energy-intensive lifestyles in their homes, offices and means of transportation.

The energy situation in the region is predicted to take more challenging turns. In Saudi Arabia, for example, authorities are predicting that by the year 2020, the demand for electricity in the Kingdom would have increased by 30,000 MW. The World Energy Council supports this forecast and adds that the power consumption in the Middle East and North Africa can rise by as much as 80%-114% till 2050.

With over 50% of the world’s proven oil reserves and approximately 40% of the world’s gas, the foremost choice for the Middle East will be to rely on fossil fuels for decades to come. The challenge, however, is that fossil fuels are finite resources, and some countries in the region are already feeling the pressure of the current demand on power generation.

Just recently, industry experts in Iraq have reported that the country’s ability to generate electricity was being hampered by a shortage of gas supply to its power plants. Owing to this predicament, Iraq’s electricity supply is deficient by at least 3,000 MW, and major power plants, such as Nainawa, Al Mansurya and Rumaila remain idle. Experts say that the peak power demand in the country hits 16,000 MW compared to only 12,000 MW of available electricity.

According to industry studies, there may be real dangers looming in light of the observed depletion of the Middle East’s fossil fuel reserves, largely due to the continuous growth of the regional power demand. First, when the dedicated fossil fuel resource could no longer support the electricity requirement, power supply may become unstable and interruptions may ensure, resulting in myriad negative impacts to the region’s economy, business and people. A power interruption affecting critical facilities, like hospitals, airports, telecommunication towers, data centers and oil & gas installations, has the potential to put an entire country or region to a standstill, and in light of regional integration among Middle Eastern countries, consequences are sure to spill over national borders.

Second, market projections suggest that the persistence of the current energy requirement patterns in the region may render Middle Eastern countries vulnerable to economic and social instability. Let us take Saudi Arabia as an example: The unrestrained domestic fuel consumption in the Kingdom may hamper its ability to export oil within a decade, and considering that over 80% of the country’s government spending is dependent on oil, a downtrend in the Kingdom’s oil export activities may affect its capacity to provide for its residents’ needs in the future. On the other hand, a limited supply to other countries could lead to soaring prices of oil and other petroleum products, which will consequently distress all the industries that depend on it for production and operation.

With predicaments such as these, what choices are there to make?

At present, the governments of the Middle East have initiated tapping alternative sources of energy, like the sun, but designing, constructing, commissioning, testing and employing these technologies may take time and millions, if not billions, of Dollars in initial investment. Authorities have also launched conformity assessment schemes and energy efficiency & conservation programs aimed at modifying the attitude and the behavior of end-users towards energy consumption. Shifting the existing paradigm, however, may take decades, if not generations, and without curbing the present energy requirement, the region’s existing power resources may not be able to sustain it until the foreseeable future.

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Empowered choice
While the long-term solutions are underway, countries in the Middle East may take a proactive approach in dealing with the region’s energy situation by hiring the services of rental power companies.

Hiring temporary power generation plants to bridge the demand and the supply of electricity yields many advantages, particularly when there is a foreseeable delay in the completion of permanent electricity facilities or when a considerable amount of power is immediately needed. Interim power generators are essential, particularly in times when the electrical grid is unstable or when power distribution networks are unavailable. The technology is also vital in mitigating the effects of planned or unplanned facility shut down or of load shedding.

Temporary power plants also have tested and recognized benefits in times of emergency, natural calamities & weather disturbance or intense seasonal demand. Disasters, unanticipated weather shifts and peak power requirements put unpredicted pressure on the region’s energy reserves, and addressing these ad hoc cases could mean taking power resources already allocated for other functions. Utilizing interim power generators in times like these not only instantaneously resolves the deficiency in supply but also precludes untoward and long-term effects that reorganization of energy resources may have to a wide array of industries.

Interim power generation facilities are sustainable, efficient and cost-effective solutions to a gamut of energy-related challenges. They respond to the questions of immediacy, viability and affordability. They are highly practical especially for short- and medium-term hire, as building permanent facilities for provisional usage may not be the most economical and workable choice. Temporary power plants offer utmost flexibility, scalability and modularity to fit in any situation, for any requirement, and to every budget.

The future is what you make it
Fossil fuels are non-renewable and the Middle East’s reserves are observed to be gradually diminishing. Alternative sources of energy, like the sun, may be abundant, but projects that could launch them at the forefront of power generation will take decades and a huge amount of country’s resources. Governments and utility companies in the Middle East are now offered an alternative choice to respond to the region’s power challenges aside from venturing into multi-billion Dollar energy facilities or pushing for a shift in existing consumption standards. They now have an option to hire interim power plants to bridge the power gap where needed and when needed. Now, the onus is upon us to make good use of the resources on offer and take the choices that would lead us to a future that we have envisioned for us, for our children and our children’s children.

Technical Review Genset Special Cover

*The foregoing article is based on an article originally published in Issue 4 2014 of Technical Review Middle East, published by Alain Charles Publishers.*


Robert Bagatsing
Altaaqa Global
Tel: +971 56 1749505

Power Leads to Economic Resilience

Africa is intensively pushing to build and grow its economy on the back of increased domestic demand, aggressive infrastructure construction activities and economic interconnection among countries in the continent. In fact, in a recent annual meeting in Rwanda, the African Development Bank (AfDB), presenting its African Economic Outlook 2014, reported that the continent’s economy was expected to grow by 4.8% in 2014 and 5.7% in 2015, approximating its growth figures pre-economic downturn.

The ongoing economic efforts in the continent will, naturally, have to be supported by energy. Gone are the days of organic economies, where economic growth could be achieved through mere human and animal strength. In this day and age, almost all economies rely on power to sustain their activities and produce tangible results. Power has become an integral component of any economy or society that outages and blackouts could bring about devastating consequences.

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Africa’s power scenario
To support Africa’s ambition to achieve economic sustainability, diversity and viability, it will primarily need to boost its infrastructure to support the growth of its various industries. To achieve that, the continent will require massive amounts of power. Does it, however, have enough energy to sustain this power-intensive phase?

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) sounded a warning that an escalating power supply deficiency in Africa may hamper the projected economic growth. It has been documented that some 25 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa were facing an energy crisis, evidenced by rolling blackouts, and that some 30 countries in region had suffered acute energy crises in recent years. While the Key World Energy Statistics by the International Energy Agency reported that electricity generation in Africa rose from 1.8% in 1973 to 3.1% in 2011, the continent still remained to have the smallest share globally, despite being the second most populous continent.

With Africa’s population expected to double to approximately 1.9 billion people by 2050, and with the continent’s industries projected to require power at almost full capacity, the World Bank said that a much higher investment would be needed to at least double Africa’s current levels of energy access by 2030. In fact, it is estimated that the Sub-Saharan region would require more than USD 300 billion in investments to achieve total electrification by 2030.

The power instability: The bigger picture
Sub-Saharan Africa was observed to have absorbed much of the blow of the recent power crisis. Blackout brought cities to a standstill and spelt terminal financial losses to small- and medium-scale companies. Mining, one of the region’s pillar industries, was severely affected, even prompting mining companies to shelve expansion plans and curtail local power usage.

Nigeria, for instance, a country that has three times the population of the Republic of South Africa (South Africa), only has one-tenth of the power generation capacity of the latter, and business in the country are reportedly starting the feel the effects of power interruptions in their daily turnover.

In Tanzania, a blackout that lasted for almost a month was experienced in Zanzibar when the underwater cable lines supplying power to the archipelago failed, owing to a huge surge in demand. As a result, residents needed to shell out USD 10 daily to run diesel-powered domestic generators, while businesses requiring refrigeration or heating had to suspend operations until power was restored.

In Angola, the occasional recession of the water level in some of the rivers affects power production, distressing allied services, like water distribution. Luanda’s water supply firm, EPAL, cited that various areas in the city experienced water supply shortage, owing to challenges related to power distribution.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), touted to be Africa’s biggest copper producer, in May 2014 advised mining companies in the country to suspend any project expansion that would require more power, amidst a power shortage that, the government said, would take years to resolve.

Even the Republic of South Africa, the region’s largest economy, was not exempt from power-related woes. In a communiqué in June 2014, Eskom, supplier of 95% of the country’s electricity, warned residents of a rolling blackout due to load-shedding, which, it said, was necessary to protect the electricity grid from total blackout. Eskom said it had begun scaling down maintenance to prepare for winter, but in the face of a rising energy demand, particularly during peak hours, it appealed to the public to reduce power consumption by at least 10%. If the power demand does not decline, then, the company said, load shedding would be the last resort to avoid a total power shutdown.

At present, solutions are underway – but these, naturally, will not come without a hefty price and cannot be completed within days or weeks. Economic reports indicated that, at the prevailing growth rate of the demand from industries and residents, the region would have to double its power generating capacity by 2025, at an approximate cost of USD 171 billion in South Africa alone.

In order to sustain this projection, the governments in Africa have identified potential sources of funds, such as power rate hikes and foreign investment. Yet, power hikes could stir social unrest and could prompt industrial entities to cut down on operations, putting jobs and production at risk. Foreign investment agreements, on the other hand, could take time to materialize, and the planning, designing, installation and commissioning of permanent power generation projects may entail several years, if not decades.

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How temporary power plants can help
Power is indeed a fundamental element for any economy to function, as every sector of the modern society, be it domestic, commercial or industrial, is, in a way or another, dependent on electricity. Nowadays, a power interruption affecting critical facilities, like hospitals, airports, telecommunications towers, data centers, mining facilities and oil & gas installations, has the potential to put an entire country, region or city to a standstill, and in light of globalization and economic integration, the consequences could spill over regional, national or even continental borders.

Hiring interim power plants to bridge the gap between the demand and the supply of electricity yields many advantages, particularly when there is a foreseeable delay in the construction of permanent power generation facilities or while waiting for the permanent power plants to be completed.

When time is of essence, rental power companies, like Altaaqa Global CAT Rental Power, are capable of providing solutions as needed, when needed. Utility companies in the region, like Eskom in South Africa, Kenya Electricity Generating Company, Tanzania Electric Supply Company, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, the Concelho Nacional de Electricidade in Mozambique, the Empresa Nacional de Electricidade in Angola and the Société nationale d’électricité in DRC, among others, can hire temporary power plants in times when the demand outpaces the supply, when the electrical grid becomes unstable due to a spike in electricity requirement or when power distribution networks are unavailable, like in the rural areas. This will allow them to bridge the supply deficit immediately. Hiring power generators can prove to be a viable solution to power supply inefficiency, bridging the power gap while the permanent power solution is still in progress.

With an immediate solution on hand, the governments and the utility companies can avert resorting to raising the prices of electricity or curtailing the supply of power during peak hours. On a greater scope, an instantaneous resolution of Africa’s escalating energy supply challenges will preclude social and political instability and massive financial losses to businesses and individuals.

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The power to go further
The continent that was once regarded as a tail-ender in terms of development, is now making an aggressive move towards economic stability and viability. To sustain the economic growth that Africa is now enjoying, it is imperative that the governments in the continent address the critical issue of chronic power shortage, which could hamper the development of various industries in the countries. The effort that the African governments are putting to address this predicament is commendable, but there exist other entities that can help them to further alleviate the situation. Rental power companies propose solutions that address the issues of urgency, cost-efficiency, reliability, energy-efficiency and environmental safety. It is advisable that utility companies provide for a contingent power solution in cases of power interruption that may lead to operational delays and, ultimately, negative social, political, economic and financial consequences.

IMIESA October coverage cover

The foregoing article was originally published in the October 2014 issue of IMIESA, published by 3S Media, South Africa.


Robert Bagatsing
Altaaqa Global
Tel: +971 56 1749505

Putting power in the hands of the communities

Kenya has had a taste of the consequences of high costs of electricity and erratic electric power generation. Droughts experienced in recent years had driven water heights in major dams to precarious levels, that power industry authorities were left with no other conceivable choice but to rely on imported fuel to produce electricity. High cost of available fuel in the international market drove electricity prices up – a burden that would have to be passed on to industrial and private consumers that were fortunate enough to be connected to power lines.

While rising energy prices were the bane of these end-users, approximately 90% of Kenya’s rural population and an estimated 45% of the country’s urban residents were yet to gain access to electricity, while a projected 60% of Kenya’s total population still used biomass as a source of energy for cooking.

The energy situation in Kenya was far from being stable, to say the least.

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Kenya’s renewable energy potential

The country’s energy situation represented a daunting affair for any government to try to overturn. But somehow, something has to be started somewhere, so Kenyan authorities trained their gaze on renewable energy sources for solutions. Today, Kenya’s renewable energy sector is touted to be one of the most active in Africa, with investments in wind, geothermal, small-scale hydro and biomass rising from virtually zero in 2009 to approximately USD 1.3 billion in recent years. Kenya is considered to be the largest producer of geothermal power in Africa and is known as a world leader in the number of solar power systems installed per capita.

Kenya’s renewable energy sources hold enormous potential. For instance, experts from the African Energy Policy Research Network 2004 observe that, at an average, Kenya receives an estimated four to six kWh per square meter per day of solar insolation, which is equivalent to about 300 million tons of oil. The study adds that most areas in the country can enjoy the benefits of solar energy, because they receive more than six hours of direct sunlight per day.

Moreover, according to scientific studies, Kenya has one of the best wind resources in the world, averaging between three and 10 m/s, with northern Kenya even hitting record speeds of up 11 m/s. Experts suggest that wind energy facilities can be strategically installed along the coast and in areas where agricultural production is counter-intuitive, like in the Northeastern Province. The Lake Turkana Wind Project currently underway is poised to provide 300 MW of wind power to Kenya’s national grid.

While the country has already been thriving in geothermal energy production, experts say that only two per cent of the country’s geothermal potential has been tapped, adding that the total estimated potential for geothermal power capacity in Kenya is in the area of 7,000 to 10,000 MW. Currently, the Geothermal Development Company has laid out plans to drill 1,400 steam wells to provide steam for up to 5,000 MW of geothermal power capacity by 2030.

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It is not just power; it is empowerment

Beyond providing large-scale additional power to Kenya’s national energy generation capacity, renewable energy solutions hold a significance much closer to home. Owing to their flexibility and scalability, renewable energy sources could be locally installed in rural and urban communities, and in industrial facilities, encouraging power decentralization and source diversification. Experts opine that this fact can potentially be a workable solution to over-dependence on hydro and thermal power, which could at times be unreliable or expensive. Decentralized and localized renewable energy projects will find merits in terms of mitigating the risks of climate change and environmental degradation, as well as of the rising prices of fuel in the world market. Giving local communities and industrial players the opportunity to “create” their own power will additionally pave the way to fully capitalizing on the renewable energy potential of Kenya and to unraveling further economic growth.

While localized renewable energy projects in Kenyan rural and urban communities and in industrial facilities are still in the nascent stages, there are technologies available that are able to sustain their progress and advancement. Mobile power technologies are designed and engineered to support power generation when permanent or renewable sources meet challenges in sustaining the electricity demand. As national frameworks are created to promote renewable energy investments at the community levels, temporary power stations can provide the power supply that installed renewable facilities are still not able to produce. As wind or solar power plants depend on unpredictable natural elements for “fuel”, interim generators will be able to supplement the generated power in cases when wind or solar supply is insufficient.

As Kenya improves its hydropower and thermal energy generation capacities, veering away from over-reliance on fossil-based power, mobile electric power stations will be able to support existing permanent power infrastructure in times when the national electric power requirement outstrips the supply. Owing to the fact that rental gensets do not require steep initial investment to procure, the Kenyan government will be able to preserve the budgetary allotment aimed at the construction of renewable energy facilities at the grass-root levels.

Empowering local communities

National economic growth may never be sustainable if a significant percentage of a country’s population and industries has yet to be empowered. Today, with the advancement in research and technology, local electrification and community empowerment is within reach. Renewable technologies are maturing, and are now proving to be viable and sustainable sources of energy. As communities and industrial facilities enjoying the benefits of electric power grow in number, the road map ahead of a country’s economy becomes increasingly clear.

Empowerment, however, does not simply mean being connected to the grid. Encapsulated within the very essence of the word is giving rural and urban communities alike the opportunity to care for their environment, to plot their own future and to traverse their own paths to economic and social advancement.

Kenya Engineer Sept 2014 Cover

The foregoing article was originally published in the September-October 2014 issue of Kenya Engineer, published by Intercontinental Publishers, Kenya.



Robert Bagatsing
Altaaqa Global
Tel: +971 56 1749505

Hydropower-dependent Economies: The Big Dry

Many developing countries are gradually embracing the hydropower technology as one of their main sources of electrical power. Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and in the Middle East are actively pursuing the construction of large dams to develop more hydropower resources. In recent years however, hydropower facilities have been facing power generation challenges, largely owing to variations in climatic parameters brought about by climate change and discrepancies in the pattern of seasonal months. Some countries have been experiencing low amounts of rainfall, and the heavy rains expected to kick in during the wet months have been delayed. As a result, water levels in many reservoirs in developing countries have dropped, causing the amount of electricity generated by hydropower plants to recede.

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Countries that have anchored a major part of their national power supply to hydroplants are bound to encounter economic, social and political obstacles in the face of changes to weather patterns. Myriad case studies conducted throughout the world have shown that lack of reliable power sets off a disastrous domino effect, wreaking havoc in several industries, including utility generation, industrial and commercial production, telecommunications, transportation, urban and rural electrification, mining and petrochemicals. Massive losses in finances and in social services could result in public unrest, often leading to street protests and demonstrations. As the country’s political stability may be threatened by social discontent, transformative investors could lose confidence altogether in pouring in money in ongoing and prospective projects in that country.

Emerging countries can find benefit in studying the impacts of climate change and prolonged summer months before and during the implementation of hydropower projects. Proactive approaches such as this may help them respond and adapt to the effects of climate change, and save costs in maintenance and refurbishment in the long run.

Power for insufficient power
In cases when the power generation capacity of hydropower plants is not enough to meet the existing energy demand during extremely hot months and days of elevated temperatures, there are available technologies that are capable of supporting them, like large-scale mobile rental power generators. Employing temporary power technologies can potentially be an integral part of any proactive approach to counter the effects of climate change on hydropower facilities. For one, interim electric generators represent a cost-effective alternative when supplemental power is required for short periods of time, like during droughts or prolonged absence of rain. As procuring them does not require large capital outlays, provisional power technologies can secure a government or a utility company’s cash flow by not necessitating considerable initial expenditure.

Because every minute counts during potential electricity interruptions, such as load shedding or electric blackouts, solutions to bridge the power gap should be swiftly and rapidly deployed at any given time. Owing to their flexibility and modularity, hiring rental power plants can be a quick and temporary solution for emergency and exceptional situations. Interim power stations are furthermore equipped with cutting-edge innovations that allow their capacities to be ramped up or scaled down, depending on the need of the situation. For instance, when rains start to kick in but are still not enough, utility companies have the liberty to lower the temporary power generation, gradually blending the productions from hydropower plants and rental gensets.

Choosing a power partner
As with the technology, choosing an appropriate interim power partner is an important element of a proactive initiative to mitigate the effects of climate change on hydropower plants. As was established in the foregoing discussion, hydropower generation has increasingly become one, if not the foremost, sources of power for many countries, thus hiring a temporary power provider entails momentous stakes. Imagine, when a country’s economic, social and political stability is on the line, should the government or hydropower companies entrust the power project to companies with little experience in large-scale operations?

There are several factors to consider in choosing a suitable mobile power provider. Governments and utility companies have to be discerning of a rental power supplier’s experience and track record in delivering executable, measurable and sustainable solutions to projects involving hydropower facilities. Industry stakeholders are advised to avoid dealing with backyard companies, which may not be able to deliver the required solutions on time nor on budget. This may create more problems in the long run, leaving vital institutions of a country – schools, hospitals, production plants, airports, telecommunication entities and petrochemical companies – suffering prolonged hours of no electricity and losing millions of dollars in cash and in opportunities by the minute.

Governments and hydropower companies should also consider the manpower expertise and after-sales service delivery of a prospective rental power supplier. A temporary energy partner should have spare parts and human resources readily available to carry-out after-installation support in times of emergency at any given location anytime.

Industry stakeholders should also be keen on a power supplier’s capability of providing flexible, scalable and turnkey solutions for a wide array of requirements. The potential power partner should have the appropriate expertise to study and evaluate a situation and to prescribe the exact solution up to the minutest exigency of a project. In order to translate plans into tangible and executable output, a rental power provider should have adequate and state-of-the-art technologies available in its product line.

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Proactivity is key
Reversing the effects of climate change may involve time – years or, even, decades. It entails paradigm shifts, not only in one country, but in all countries, developed and developing alike. The magnitude of the task at hand is enormous, and governments in several countries are working to commence the change. It remains to be a work in progress, and not all of us may be lucky to see its fulfillment. To support these efforts, governments and utility companies should be proactive and vigilant in moderating the consequences of climate change on the lives of their citizens and customers, respectively. As a sweeping transformation could not implemented overnight, the best thing to do at this very moment is to prepare. Humans of today are fortunate to have acquired the ability to foretell the effects of climate change, and to have on hand solutions to assuage or preclude them. The onus is now on us to put them to productive use.

AWW Sept 2014 coverage cover

The foregoing article was originally published in the September 2014 issue of Arab Water World, published by CPH Media, Middle East.



Robert Bagatsing
Altaaqa Global
Tel: +971 56 1749505

Demand-Supply Mismatch

India is currently experiencing an economic upturn, with projected growth rates hitting pre-financial-crisis levels at more than 6%. There is, however, an escalating power supply shortage that may potentially hamper India’s continuous economic growth.

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Energy experts reveal that, to date, an estimated 300 million people in India have no access to electricity – which may seem an irony, in light of the fact that recorded data in recent years show that the demand for power in India has constantly outstripped the supply, both in terms of base load energy and peak availability. Owing to this imbalance, the country is said to register an 8.5% deficit in base load requirement and a 9.8% short-fall in peak load requirement.

This prevailing energy challenge is manifesting. Who could forget the massive blackout of 2012 that left 700 million people in India without electricity? In what is touted to be one of the worst blackouts in history, twenty of India’s 28 states suffered the effects of the power interruption that almost incited social instability and protests for fears that the country was no longer in the position to support its booming local energy demand. The repercussion was widespread and was nothing short of catastrophic: traffic jams all over the affected cities, babies wailing of heat, bodies half-burnt at crematoriums, patients gasping for every breath of life, miners trapped underground in complete darkness, passengers stranded in the middle of miles of track.

While other regions in the country are predicted to be severely affected by the energy shortage, India’s Central Electricity Authority forecasts that Northern India can expect a power surplus during the monsoon months, as most of its power generation capacity is predominantly dependent on hydropower.

This fact bodes well for region and for the other areas where it exports its surplus power, but it may not be permanently dependable. As it is largely conditioned by the amount of rainfall, one of the drawbacks of hydropower generation is that the capacity may gradually recede during seasons of less precipitation or of drought.

In recognition of these shortcomings, the government is currently taking steps to mitigate the effects of power insufficiency and has then launched ambitious rural electrification programs. The caveat, however, is that the rate of building or refurbishing permanent infrastructure still lags behind the pace of the increase in energy demand. As a result, ground research shows that approximately 400 million Indians still lose power during blackouts and that 35.5% of Indian households still has limited access to electricity. As India’s demand for electricity is not showing signs of slowing down, the country’s energy supply just cannot keep in step.

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The much needed power boost

In times when permanent power plants are still in progress and when the customary sources of energy cannot keep up with the electricity requirements, the Government and the utility industry stakeholders may opt to hire temporary power plants. Temporary power generation companies, like Altaaqa Global CAT Rental Power, have the products that can support the existing power generation infrastructure, with the end of bridging the gap in electricity supply as, where and when the necessity be.

Hiring power plants has tested and recognized merits, particularly in cases of emergencies, natural calamities and abrupt seasonal changes. Signing an agreement with interim power providers can also prove beneficial when electricity distribution facilities are not available in certain areas, like in dispersed communities; when permanent power stations are still being constructed or commissioned or when energy generation facilities are being expanded or refurbished.

India’s initiative to harness alternative sources of energy, like hydroelectric, solar, wind, geothermal and tidal has proven to be effective, but seasonal changes may alter the operations of the aforementioned facilities. For instance, some parts of the country where hydroelectric power stations operate may experience droughts or prolonged absence of rain, which in turn can drastically reduce the power generation capacity of the said plants. Solar or photovoltaic farms thrive during summer months but may experience shortage in production in months when days are predominantly cloudy or rainy. In these cases, rental power plants may support the power generation capacity of the current facilities if only to bridge the gap during the crucial months of seasonal change.

Power need not run dry

Tapping the potential of alternative sources of energy definitely has its merits, particularly in the context of natural gas conservation and of sustainability. Yet, one salient disadvantage of these alternative power technologies is their perceived dependence on nature, say on the amount of sunshine, wind or water. With the help of temporary power plants, these alternative energy infrastructure can continue to work at the optimum level, even in times of seasonal change. As a result, the areas where these facilities supply power to will not have to suffer from energy deficiency and constant load shedding. With the aid of interim generators, power need not set as the sun sets, drop as the wind drops and dry up as water dries up.

Power Watch India Sept 2014 Cover

*The foregoing article was originally published in the September 2014 issue of Power Watch magazine, India.*


Robert Bagatsing
Altaaqa Global
Tel: +971 56 1749505

Mobile Gensets for Renewable Energy Sources

Rising above the electricity-related challenges that have hounded the country for decades, India is now said to have the fifth-largest power generation portfolio and is regarded the fifth largest wind energy producer in the world. As a response to the observed electricity supply shortage in India, feared to worsen as months of peak consumption draw near, power generation from renewable sources are currently being maximized and optimized to support the country’s permanent traditional energy facilities. In 2013, for example, the share of renewable power in India’s total energy mix stood at 12.3%, up from 7.8% in 2012. Wind power accounted for the lion’s share of the renewable energy generation figure, at 68% and an installed capacity of 19.1 GW.

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Recognizing the merits of harnessing the potential of renewable energy sources, the government of India has launched various initiatives to encourage efforts to transition from fossil-based energy options, including offering tax holidays and generation-based incentives or GBIs. The benefits of renewable energy sources are gradually being recognized by different sectors of society, and as the government opened renewable energy projects to foreign and local venture and investment, alternative power generation technologies are seen to have a bright roadmap ahead.

Though renewable energy sources are seeing much support from the government, citizens and investors alike, energy industry professionals observe that renewable technologies have so much more potential to be developed. First, at the policy level, experts suggest the fortification of renewable purchase obligations (RPOs) to drive the demand for electricity from renewable energy sources. They are also advocating a more intense motivation to construct power transmission infrastructure, so more electricity generated by alternative energy sources reaches the grid.

At the technology level, renewable power sources have much room to be enhanced. As we speak, research and development efforts are being taken to improve on their performance predictability and dependability, despite the fact that their “fuels” (such as water, wind or sunlight) depend on natural conditions, which could not be controlled or completely projected.

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As renewable technologies are being planned, constructed or augmented, and are still in diffusion to more communities and industrial areas in India, other alternative technologies can supplement them, bridging the gap in power supply and electricity demand. It has been documented that a 50 MW wind farm, for example, can be built in six months, and if one factors in the time needed for planning, designing, and receiving necessary approvals and permits, a wind farm may be operational after only a year or so. During the months when wind farms (or any other renewable energy facility for that matter) are not yet operational, mobile generator sets have the capacity to temporarily provide power to the communities planned to be beneficiaries of renewable energy.

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Temporary generators are cost-effective immediate solution to power supply shortages and instability, which do not require a huge initial capital to acquire and install. Because rental gensets are modular and flexible, interim power stations can be installed in most places where renewable energy facilities find applications. Owing to their adaptive configuration, temporary gensets can be easily installed and commissioned, and can be run in as little time as a few days. Additionally, as they are containerized and have relatively small dimensions, mobile generators can be delivered from any point in the world to another.

With the support of temporary power plants, the perceived limitations of renewable sources of energy can be surmounted, and the deficit in supply of power can be filled. As renewable facilities ramp up their reliability and predictability, interim power stations can provide a viable and sustainable supply of power when needed and as needed by communities and industrial facilities in India. Alternative power sources, when enhanced and properly utilized, have the capacity to support permanent traditional sources of electricity to avoid further energy outages and load shedding, and to extend the coverage of the electricity supply even to the most remote communities and industries in India.

The Energy Outlook Sept 2014 Cover


*The foregoing article was originally published in the September 2014 issue of The Energy Outlook, India.*


Robert Bagatsing
Altaaqa Global
Tel: +971 56 1749505