Global revenues from the power rental market are forecast to grow from US$6.4 billion (€4.9 billion) in 2011 to US$17 billion (€13.2 billion) by 2017, with a combined annual growth rate of 17%, according to a report by global market research and consulting company MarketsandMarkets.
The report, which defines the power rental market as revenues earned either through renting generators or from a temporary power plant, said the market for temporary rental power would be driven by the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, and Central and South America, as well as North America, and – to a limited extent – Europe.
In Russia, meanwhile, consultancy RusRental put the value of the power rental market at around RUB2.2 billion (€44.5 million) in 2013, with growth of around 10% to 12% expected this year, with the construction market expected to be the main driver.
And a general feeling of global confidence in this market was echoed by Ben Van Hove, vice president of marketing at Atlas Copco Portable Power, who said that the manufacturer expected rental penetration to increase.
“I think specifically the power industry outlook is better – here we see an overall increase in demand, which is reflected in the rental industry. In terms of geographies, I think Europe – which has been a difficult market for some time – may start to see some increases. If you talk to rental companies in Europe about projections for next year, we see increased optimism and talk again of investing.
“We also see the US and Canada continue to be strong from a general generator market perspective. However, the picture is not so clear on the rental side – the huge changes in emissions legislation are affecting our supply cycle. I also think the new legislation will present an issue for the second-hand sale of generators in a few years. This may affect the revenues rental companies can generate from their investments in new equipment.
“In South America, everything depends on mining. We see mining business flattening out this year, but with some hints of new investments in the future at least. Africa, meanwhile, is not yet very rental driven, in contrast to the Middle East of course, which is. Demand for rental power remains strong in Japan, and is coming up in the rest of Asia.
“Australia also very mining dependent, and hopefully this will pick up too. So globally we are optimistic, especially for the power rental side of the business.”
Manufacturers like Atlas Copco are constantly refining their designs to keep up-to-date with demand. Indeed, one interesting trend in the generators market has been the development of new hybrid models (see box story). However, Mr Van Hove said he thought the demand for this type of equipment was application-driven.
“In certain specific applications there is potential for these kinds of systems, and this is definitely something we are looking at and working with.
“But like always before we launch anything new, we will make sure it is 100% rental ready – there is nothing worse than jumping on to new technology that isn’t ready yet. In addition, rental companies tend to use generators for three to five years, so we would need battery technology that will last five years under rental conditions.
“Other new technology that we are looking closely at is silenced generator units – which are also application specific. The events sector is a key focus here, for instance.” He said.
Atlas Copco’s most recent generator launches targeting the rental industry include the 60 kVA QAS 60 box B for the European market as well as the QAS 360-550 for markets outside Europe and North America.
These are both conventional diesel-powered models, and a key design focus has been improving transportability. QAS 60 box B features a reduced canopy size, said Mr Van Hove. “This means you can put 20 units on a truck or 11 in a container,” he explained. Meanwhile, he said the QAS 360-550 was also designed for transportability.
“It is also a unique rental solution due to its transportability side by side on a truck. It is actually in its power category the only unit that you can do this with,” he said.
Another manufacturer concentrating on improving the ease with which companies can move generators around is JCB. Its latest diesel generators come in the form of its 10-model QS range, and the smallest model measures just 750 mm wide.
“The compact design minimises transport and logistics costs for our customers. In fact, up to 38 generators can fit in a single 12 m container,” said Jonathan Garnham, director & general manager of JCB Power Products.
Designed for the mass-market, the QS range is powered by JCB’s own engines or ‘JCB Diesel by Kohler’ units for the smaller models. Spanning the 22 kVA to 220 kVA classes, the new models are said to offer 500 hour service intervals and all the service points can be accessed from one side of the generator.
Meanwhile, John Deere also focussed on fitting more power into a smaller package for its latest prime power launch, which is said to deliver 250 kVA in a 6.8 l package.
The manufacturer said it had achieved a smaller package by using technology such as high pressure common rail injection, hardened block and piston and four-valve cylinder heads.
For OEMs, it said the 6.8L engine allows the design of smaller canopies. Material, installation and transport costs are also reduced, according to John Deere. And for end-users, the smaller generator size means installation and running costs are lowered.
Another way of increasing the suitability of generators for rental customers is to develop models that can run from alternative fuels – increasing flexibility for the end-user.
Kohler, for example, has released a new range of propane-powered gensets with outputs from 30 kVA to 125 kVA, and highlighted the 50 kVA 50REZGT and 70 kVA 70REZGT propane sets as being well-suited to the rental market.
It said they were designed to meet growing demand for cost-effective mobile power for prime and standby applications in new markets. The units can switch between optional on-board liquid propane fuel tanks and external liquid or gas, or natural gas fuel tanks.
“The 50REZGT and 70REZGT are ideal for the event rental, construction, commercial and water utility markets,” said Steve Zielke, Kohler Power Systems marketing manager.
“The compact gensets are engineered to provide reliable power in any situation from disaster recovery and special events to serving as primary power at construction sites and backup power at water utilities, commercial retail and healthcare facilities.”
Tucker Perkins, chief business development officer at the Propane Education & Research Council, added, “Propane continues to be more widely recognised as an efficient, low-carbon, alternative fuel for residential and commercial applications, commercial mowing, and fuelling engines.
“Now, with Kohler’s new product line, construction professionals will have the option to rent or purchase durable, propane-fuelled portable generators that offer reliable performance while producing fewer emissions,” he added.
Denyo generators, distributed in the UK by Morris Site Machinery, said its latest new range were developed as a result of increasing market demand as customers looked to reduce energy consumption by choosing greener equipment and technologies.
Denyo has introduced two new 50 kVA models – the Eventa and Renta models. Both models are said to offer up to 17 hours of operation with a 125 litre fuel tank, and the silenced Eventa version boasts an average sound pressure level of just 58dB(A).
Phil Winnington, managing director at Morris Site Machinery, said, “The power generation market is incredibly diverse. From the buoyant TV, Film and Events sectors which continue to advance and grow, to the more recent upturn in demand from the construction industry post-recession. Couple this with many businesses now investing in contingency planning and temporary power is now seen as an essential element in keeping businesses operating.”
The latest generators from Caterpillar-owned FG Wilson, meanwhile, include the new F model range. This 32 kVA to 125 kVA series is also highly flexible in that it targets multiple customer segments such as domestic, retail and industrial.
Stephen McKinty, FG Wilson general manager, said the fact that the generators featured FG Wilson engines and a simplified choice of options would allow the company to compete in new markets and broaden its customer base.
“Such new product introductions are part of Caterpillar’s strategic plans to position FG Wilson as the volume brand within its electrical power division for all diesel and gas generator sets from 6.8 kVA to 750 kVA,” Mr McKinty explained, adding that the global generator market was “more competitive than ever”.
Meanwhile, for the North American market, the latest new mobile generator launch from Cummins Power Generator for the rental market comes in the form of a Tier 4 Final range – complying with strict new off-highway diesel exhaust emissions laws.
Built around Cummins Tier 4 Final QSB7 and QSL9 engine platforms, the three new dual-frequency models offer 150 kW (187 kVA) to 275 kW (344 kVA) power outputs and feature exhaust gas recirculation, selective catalytic reduction and diesel oxidation catalyst engine technologies to comply with the emissions laws, but do not require a diesel particulate filter.
Cummins said this helped reduce maintenance overhead and service costs, while making the new models between 4% and 5% more fuel efficient than previous Tier 3 models. It also said they deliver higher availability and longer running times between service intervals with no increase in overall package size.
Antonio Leitao, vice president of power products at Cummins Power Generation, said, “These mobile rental generators offer the simplest and most reliable solution for providing rated power while meeting Tier 4 Final regulations.”
And Spanish manufacturer Himoinsa introduced its new HHW series of generator sets to the market earlier this year. The new HHW series includes seven soundproofed, open generator models, with power output ranging between 20 and 100 kVA at 50Hz and between 30 and 120 kVa at 60Hz.
The new generator models, powered by the Himoinsa 4HD engine, feature low noise emissions, optimal fuel economy and excellent throughput, productivity and reliability levels, according to the manufacturer.
Over the last few months, the company said it had supplied generators to major rental companies in the UK including PowerHire, Speedy, Woodlands, Charles Wilson and Power Rental.
Himoinsa managing director Clive Dix summed up some of the characteristics that rental companies were looking for. "Our generator sets provide a large selection of watertight fuel tanks and different configurations for the base panels, as well as ensuring excellent functioning in parallel and other technical options made to order,” he said.
What’s the alternative?
An interesting trend in the generators market has been the development of new hybrid models – combining battery storage with traditional fuels. Here is a snap-shot of some of the latest designs.
JCB’s Inteli-Hybrid generator based on its new QS range of standard diesel models, but includes 24 deep-cycle batteries to supply power in periods of low load. The idea is to improve the efficiency of off-grid sites and avoid unnecessary fuel use. For example, JCB said a 100 kVA generator can use 100 l of fuel every day running at low load, but running from the batteries in low load periods could save 40 l of fuel a day, with no noise and reduced emissions.
Planetary Power is currently developing on a 60 kW peak output hybrid solar-powered generator – Sunsparq, which will combine solar power from its 24 m2 collapsible solar collector, with battery energy storage and supplemental fuel including natural gas, propane and diesel. And the company currently produces HyGen, a 60 kW diesel/battery hybrid generator that is said to consume up to 80% less fuel than a conventional model. It uses the diesel engine to fire up then runs off its battery pack during operation.
Firefly has developed three battery-powered generator models targeted at the rental market. Cygnus One, Cygnus Two and Cygnus three, with outputs ranging from 1.2 kVA to 24 kVA, can be combined with traditional diesel gensets to help reduce fuel usage, or linked to renewable energy sources such as solar PV or wind turbine. Firefly said the larger model could save over 2000 l of diesel fuel per month.
Off-Grid Energy’s portable hybrid generators – battery-powered 5 to 30 kVA single phase versions and 15 to 120 kVA three phase versions – can be linked with diesel generators as well as renewable energy sources such solar panels or wind turbines. When linked to a diesel generator, it is made to work as efficiently as possible with any spare energy stored in a battery pack. When the battery is charged and demand for power is low, the generator can turn off and the battery is used. When the battery runs low or the load increases, the generator is automatically told to start up again.
This is a feature from the November/December issue of IRN. For the full feature, including extra images and box stories, please subscribe to the magazine: http://www.khl.com/subscriptions/