15 Sep 2021

How to Save on Fuel Costs for Large Scale Temporary Power Projects

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Fuel selection and consumption can be one of the most important yet costly decisions and expenses of a major power project. From the construction of new midstream processing facilities, to production operations of new frac sand mines in major basins of North America, large scale power systems must scrutinize their fuel sources carefully.

Temporary power generation allows operators and service companies to begin operations months or even years before the permanent power grid arrives. Therefore revenue happens sooner than planned in many cases. So how can you save on fuel costs while making sure your project runs smoothly? And how do you know what kind of money-saving measures you can put in place without compromising your processes and systems? 

The Rise of Temporary Power Projects

Firstly, it’s important to note that multi-megawatt temporary power projects are becoming more and more common across the world. 

New rapid installation methods and quick commissioning timelines mean that mobile generating systems can be up and running in a matter of weeks rather than months or years. 

Add to this the fact that the upfront capital requirement is considerably lower than purchasing permanent power plants, and you can see why they are often the go-to solution ahead of the utility grid arriving on site.

There are predictions that the need for temporary power generation will skyrocket in the coming years, partly because of climate change, and partly because of the natural gas production boom that’s taking off in remote areas away from the electrical grid. 

As a result, the demand for reliable and cost-effective solutions is on the rise - so how can you determine the most cost-effective solution for you and your project? 

Natural Gas for Natural Disasters

When Hurricane Sandy hit greater New York in 2012, the Siphon Tunnel project lost power pretty much right away. 

On top of that, the site had suffered major damage to their equipment in the storm which meant that there was a severe delay. Under strict EPA emissions regulations, it looked likely that the project would have to shut down completely if they couldn’t find a quick, green and cost-effective temporary solution. 

We designed a temporary power solution made up of three 1300Kw natural gas units, which meant the project could continue as normal, saving the site between $125,000 and $127,000 per month. 

Combined Solutions

Not every project is the same, and many require a personalized temporary power solution to fit their individual needs. For example, your state might have different environmental regulations than the state next door. 

Once you’re in the know about important rules that affect you and your project you can come up with a solution that’s safe and efficient - and this might involve getting creative with two different solutions. 

For some projects, a combined heat and power solution might work best, while another project might save money with biodiesel fuel options or hybrid battery and generator packages. 

Uptime Guarantees and Cost of Downtime

A consistent power supply means no surprise outages or costly downtime in your project. When selecting your power provider and fuel source options, consider your cost of downtime. Many large scale natural gas power systems now have guaranteed uptime even greater than the permanent utility grid can provide. 

For one plant, a micro-grid including four 1.3 MW containerized natural gas units was the perfect solution. The micro-grid could be remotely monitored 24/7 in real-time by real people in cooperation with Aggreko’s Remote Monitoring mobile app, to proactively diagnose any equipment issues and ensure the site had consistent power. 

Power is an important part of any project and finding the right fuel solution can save you thousands or even millions of dollars over the duration of a project. By switching to natural gas alternatives and finding a solution that’s dialed in specifically for your project, you’ll be able to save big on fuel costs while also enjoying reliable uptime performance.