The first load bank system from power-generating brand supplier Vert Energy – the Southern Africa distributor of Asco power switching and control components – has been supplied to private-equity company Peter Investments, in Botswana.
Delivered to Peter Investments on May 3, the Asco Froment load bank will be used for load testing to ensure reliability of generator sets and standby power systems.
Vert Energy sales and marketing director Ryan Robertson explains the system will be trailer-mounted and used across the country at various sites, including government infrastructure, telecommunications, mining and game lodges.
Botswana’s power production, he says, is primarily coal-based, but recent studies have been undertaken to have this supplemented by solar energy independent power producers, as a vast amount of power is still being exported to the country from South Africa and Zambia, owing to demand outstripping local production capacity.
“However, the price increases from South African State-owned power utility Eskom and low commodity prices have meant that production costs at some of Bostwana’s mining operations, such as those producing copper, nickel and gold, have made it extremely difficult to undertake expansion or increased production.
The country’s mining operations – which use a combination of power from national power utility Botswana Power Corporation, diesel generators and solar energy – are large consumers of electricity.
“Their geographic proximity makes the transmission [of electricity] and substations an expensive option,” says Robertson, noting that, in these instances, diesel generators are often more cost effective.
A critical part of Vert Energy’s solutions, Robertson points out, is meeting the growing demand from generator set builders and electromechanical power transmission industries to ensure that there is no interruption in power supply, as a result of load-shedding or mains failure.
Through an extensive range of high-quality branded electric power-generation (EPG) products, and a highly skilled team of factory and original-equipment manufacturer-trained technicians, the company says it plays a major role in providing dependable power to companies, even in Africa’s most remote countries such as Botswana.
Asco load banks, which are designed to replicate working load conditions, provide electrical loads for testing power sources – including generators and uninterruptible power supplies.
“A well-planned, preventive maintenance programme, which includes load testing of a generator set, is vital to the reliable operation and extended service life of standby power systems,” says Robertson.
He explains that load banks offer efficient power test solutions and reduce the harmful effects of ‘wet stacking’ and glazing problems caused by the underloading of a generator.
When mining operations are quiet and there is no real demand placed on generators, Robertson notes that operations slowly start to develop ‘wet stacking’ and, as a result, the cylinders start to glaze.
Wet stacking – the primary cause of diesel engine failure in backup generating systems – occurs when unburned fuel accumulates in the combustion chamber, reducing engine ratings and affecting performance.
“The Asco range of load banks are used to create a full load application to burn off this carbon and prevent this from happening, ensuring that the generators offer reliable performance in times of low load.
“Asco has a range of load banks and transfer switches, and the automatic transfer switches ensure that the transition between different power sources is handled effectively and safely.”
Combining the Asco Froment load bank (resistive/inductive), with the Sigma load control and instrumentation hardware, allows for fully variable power factor loading, which, in turn, allows for the testing of generators of up to 800 kVA at 80% load.
During the test, the Asco load bank’s resistive elements and inductors are connected to the supply using electromechanical contactors fitted internally within the load bank.
“The easy to operate Sigma system ensures flexibility in automatic load control and provides cost-effective solutions for power testing requirements, which often require high-level instrumentation, data capture and verification,” Robertson adds.
Vert Energy’s Asco range also encompasses Avtron load banks. Other EPG components include Leroy Somer alternators, API Covrad radiators and customised control panels.
Also in the range are NSM single and three-phase, two-pole alternators for portable power, as well as alternating current and direct current two-pole welders and permanent magnet generators. AllightSykes MSGEN2 lighting towers, which offer over 50 000 hours of light a unit, are also available.