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Tips on renting power

Steven Meyrick helps you find the right power rental service provider

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Altaaqa global, Power renting, ANALYSIS

Altaaqa's Steven Meyrick rounds up handy tips to help you choose the right power rental service provider.

Be it an emergency shutdown or a planned one, companies in the utility sector depend on temporary power plants at some point of time or the other. Choosing the right service provider can be a challenge considering the fact that different situations may need different kind of technology or handling. While duration of the rentals, location and costs are basic criteria for choosing the right kind of temporary power plant, companies sometimes may need to decide if there is a requirement at all to hire the services.

Some of the most common requirements occur when the electricity demand outpaces the power generation supply, or the electrical grid is unstable, or if there are no power distribution networks. Usually, to quickly solve the lack of power infrastructure, utility power companies and government authorities rent interim power plant until the permanent power infrastructure is completed.

In case of emergencies, be it man made or natural calamities, utility companies are obviously left with no option but to be equipped with temporary power and proactively prepare for the worst case scenario.

It is however when a company is gearing for a planned power shut down that it needs to weigh its options and consider questions such as: Will the shutdown affect supply in the long term? Will it hamper electricity supply to critical and essential areas such as airports, data centres and hospitals and cause major power interruption to their businesses? Similar questions - focusing on duration, delays and demand - need to be considered while trying to bridge the power gap.

Companies usually hire temporary power plant when no other possible alternative source of power generation is available to supplement the electricity shortfall. Through the plant, companies can also aim to fulfil only that amount of power, which is required for essential services.

Economic impact

The cost of renting a power plant versus the economic impact of a power shortage is beyond debate. A recent report by the Iraqi government shows that Iraqis lose US $40bn per year due to chronic electricity shortage. A temporary power plant can ease the burden of the economic losses by bridging the power gap to critical facilities like oil and gas, petrochemicals, industrial manufacturing zones and commercial business districts. Therefore the cost of power plant rentals is marginal compared to the economic devastation caused by the electricity shortage.

Selecting a power rental company

When choosing a rental power plant provider, the utility provider must consider the following pointers:

Extensive experience

Depending on the requirement, utility companies should be asking whether a rental power provider has thorough experience in delivering temporary solutions. In complex projects, such as city-wide utility electrification or Independent Power Project (IPP), an inexperienced rental power company tends to over promise and fails to deliver due to lack of technical experience, thereby causing delays, which in turn could lead to legal disputes and further economic damage. And if the utility company is supplying to a large petrochemical company, such inexperience could wreak havoc. Global companies such as Altaaqa Global Cat Rental Power can provide a worldwide network of over 1,700 locations. The company together with Caterpillar’s network of Cat dealers offer full-line, single-sourced solutions for all large-scale rental power needs.

Equipment and technologies

Right equipment and latest technologies are one of the basic requirements to factor in. For example, mining companies in certain countries require interim power plant that are equipped with flexible operational mode to switch from grid mode to island mode and back to grid mode in just minutes – which require advanced technology.

Support system

Specialised support system comes into play when the interim power plant needs to be set up in remote areas or in challenging terrain. Whether the project is a mining operation in the middle of a mountain or an oil and gas refinery in the burning Arabian desert, temporary power plants should be capable enough and the rental company should have the available materials and qualified engineers at all times to support its operation.

A case in point is Altaaqa Global and Caterpillar’s network, which provides local sourcing for most parts and routinely ships emergency orders as fast as 4 hours upon receiving the order. The company has the energy industry’s fastest response delivery time – and most modern – rental power fleet.

Rapid deployment

A lot of utility projects can be highly time sensitive. Thus the ability of rental power providers to react, deploy, mobilise and commission interim power plant in a short period of time - on a moment’s notice – is a game changer. And without necessary equipment and professional manpower, there can be no rapid deployment.

For example, in the aftermath of a natural disaster, a renewable wind and solar power plant facility requires immediate temporary power supply. At this point, along with relevant equipment, there is a need for a team of professional logistic personnel that can deal with the complexities of ports, customs and transportation.

Altaaqa Global uses equipment that is built exclusively for the rental power industry, and its temporary power modules are engineered and packaged to withstand extreme climates. Further, the company’s highly experienced engineers and service technicians have the ability to handle large-scale temporary power projects from 20MW rental power plant to 500MW distributed power generation or more.

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