Australia is leading the way globally for renewable energy generation and adoption. Using CAT’s extensive range of state-of-the-art hybrid technology platforms, Energy Power Systems Australia (EPSA) can deliver a full spectrum of hybrid solutions.

Renewable energy became the major component of Australia’s electricity generation mix for the first time in 2019. The National Electricity Market (NEM), which delivers power to most of Australia’s regions except for Western Australia and the Northern Territory, reported that more than 50 percent of electricity delivered in that year came from solar- and wind-powered generation grids. As a result of these initiatives, the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will dramatically come down in the coming years.

Australia has had a mix of energy generating systems including coal and gas, but it is planning an aggressive expansion into non-fossil-fuelled power generation for its future electricity needs. Methods in this renewable mix include wind, solar, geothermal, wave, hydro and bio-energy, along with the emergence of battery and storage technologies, and hydrogen power.

One of the main challenges that sites, such as the rooftop solar production grids in Western Australia, face is the fluctuations in weather that preclude a constant level of power generation.

To ensure there is such constancy of supply, backup generators can be installed that kick in the moment there is a drop in the amount of electricity being produced. And if the intent is to produce power without using fossil fuels, that generator must also not produce carbon emissions.

Natural gas is one of the most popular fuels used in power generating plants in Australia owing to its lower (than diesel) cost and the country’s extensive delivery infrastructure.

Hybrid power systems

However, a hybrid system using diesel to generate electrical power that is stored in batteries against immediate need offers the best and greenest alternative for those companies that are situated where there is a lack of access to an electricity grid or connection to a gas pipeline.

Most companies have environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies and targets to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint. The goal is to become carbon-neutral to an agreed timetable, and these targets become achievable once their operations reduce their reliance on fossil fuels to zero.

Australia is at the forefront of global renewable energy generation and adoption. Electricity is fast becoming the power system of choice for the future in all industrial sectors. Steelmaking and automotive designs, to name but two, are leaders in using green electricity for all their operations.

A Swedish steelmaker delivered its first batch of zero-carbon steel to its automotive partner (also in Sweden), who manufactured the world’s first zero-carbon commercial vehicle. It is also planning to design and manufacture a range of trucks with the new fossil-free steel.

Renewable versus traditional power generation

McKinsey & Co, the global management consulting firm, predicts that new renewable power generation sites will outstrip traditional generators using fossil fuels by 2030, with a resultant drop in oil demands.

Therefore, it is expected that electrical power use by all industrial and manufacturing sectors in Australia will grow explosively to replace that lost to oil-powered generators, to ensure all of the country’s power needs can be met.

At the current rate of adoption, renewables like solar, wind, wave, hydro and hydrogen will form at least 50% of electricity generation by 2035.

However, although battery storage systems are becoming more widely available, a majority of power generation sites still rely on emergency standby power systems that use fossil fuels.

Diesel generators form the backbone of the most critically necessary systems where a loss of power would have fatal effects for the business to which they were providing electricity and, coupled with a battery to store energy, make an ideal hybrid solution.

Green power generation

A truly green power generating system, like one of CAT’s hybrid solutions, relies on charging batteries using solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to convert sunlight to electrical power. That stored power can then be called upon immediately on need by the grid to which it is attached. This swift action supports a consistent stream of power being available from the grid.

With a huge number of installed commercial and residential operations around the country, CAT’s generators are the backbone of many electrical grids. The company specialises in mixing renewable power generation with smart storage capabilities that dispense custom-designed power supply solutions through the CAT® Hybrid Microgrid System.

These hybrid systems can include diesel and renewable power generation with battery storage, with the battery portion providing stability in case of fluctuations in delivery caused by atmospheric conditions (in case of renewables) in remote locations. Any mix obviously vastly reduces fossil fuel use and related costs when renewables are in the generating grid, with a commensurate reduction in GHG emissions.

Energy Power Systems Australia (EPSA) exclusively offers the full spectrum of hybrid solutions based on CAT’s extensive range of state-of-the-art technology platforms that can combine in many configurations to provide an uninterruptible power source for any use from 10 kW–100 MW. These solutions can be for the main (prime) power supply or to prepare a standby or emergency power system, or any variation thereof.

EPSA can configure a hybrid power supply system based on CAT’s pre-set operational requirements (or gensets). These are:

Emergency Standby Power

These are typically expected to run for short durations of between 50 hours to 200 hours per year. It is not advisable to rely on these for more than their rating or for excessive output times.

Standby Power

These are slightly longer running systems that can go on for between 200 hours to 500 hours annually, but they must be used under the same limitations as emergency power.

Prime Power

This is a full power system that is designed to be used in areas where the national grid is not available. If the national grid is available but limited, prime power systems can run in parallel to boost power demands. Some operational limits apply, but these are not critical if the system is monitored and maintained.

Continuous Power

As it says on the tin, these can operate for virtually unlimited hours. They can be standalone supplies for remote installations, or form part of the electricity grid.

Mission Critical Standby Power

These systems are designed to supply a variable load factor of 85% of the nameplate rating with 100% power output achievable for 5% of the operational time. This, like standby systems, should only be used for between 200 hours to 500 hours per year. Applications for mission-critical standby power systems include all installations where a loss of electricity supply is deemed absolutely critical for its operations, such as medical facilities and data centres, for example.