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Generators rejigged to save fuel | BUILDING MAGAZINE

Generators rejigged to save fuel

As the construction industry approaches a ban on red diesel from April this year, fuel reducion trials run by Sir Robert McAlpine with generator supplier Aggreko have been descibed as ‘promising’.

Sir Robert McAlpine brought in Aggreko speciifically to conduct fuel tests on tower cranes at its Kettering yard. They tried load-on-demand- a solution using several smaller kVA generators to power the same peak demand as one larger unit, automatically turning off surplus generators when the site’s demand falls.

The tests looked to undertand which Aggreko generator set-up was the most efficient for providing power on site.

They also tested battery assisted generators and hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO).

The project was spear-headed by McAlpine’s plant procurement manager, Martin Mitchell, and commercial plant manager Steve Wright, along with Tom Adlington, a sector team leader at Aggreko.

The tests focused on lifting jobs using two different types of tower crane at full working capacity, hoisting and slewing 12.5 tonne weights. Both cranes are used in McAlpine’s yard and in the field.

The results demonstrated that generators are generally oversized or poorly matched for their chosen application, leading to inefficiencies and excess emissions. Both scenarios revealed significant reductions in both fuel consumption and carbon emissions, from as much as 45% all the way up to 95%.

Martin Mitchel went on to say: “We believe these trials have the potential to revolutionise temporary power on construction sites. We have proven something in colaboration with Aggreko, but now we need to educate and promote these findings to the rest of the business and the industry. Our partnership with Aggreko has combined expertise and resource to deliver against a common goal. Most significant for me is the courage and conviction to challenge the way we do things, deliver the trials, and most importantly, prove to everybody that there is a better way of working”.

Tom Adlington added: “This project was born out of a common goal to improve operations at both ends, and ultimately reduce the impact of our industry’s environmental impact. I’ve worked with Martin for some years now and have always shared his ambition to challenge the conventional ways of doing things – it’s what Aggreko’s all about. We’re not just a transactional power provider, we apply innovative thinking to existing technologies and that’s what’s helping companies like Sir Robert McAline make an impact to-day. We hope this report provides inspiration and practical guidance for others across the sector”.

Other contractors, including Bowmer & Kirkland and Kier, have adopted flywheel technology to optimise generator selection. At Manchester Metropolitan University, where Bowmer & Kirkland has an £82m contract to build a new science and engineering building, it is saving more than 120,000 litres of diesel fuel over the 45-week crane hire contract by using 150 kVA generators instead of the 300 kVA generator specified by the crane manufacturer, and using a Punch Power 200 flywheel to managed power demand peaks.