Grid-tie for the 20kW Power Pallet

 
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We’ve long wanted to provide a reasonably priced grid-tie solution for the Power Pallet. However sync equipment for small scale systems is scarce, and usually at price points near equal the Power Pallet itself.
 
Today we’re announcing the availability of a fully complete, non-hacked, and equipment certified grid-tie solution for the 20kw Power Pallet for $4,995. This is a solution that will work for nearly all global grid standards, as well as enable off-grid parallel feeding with large gensets already at your facility.
 
We think this tie solution is a game changer for the broad usability of the Power Pallet. For years many of you have told us the Power Pallet won’t be relevant for your location until it will connect either to the main grid, or an already existing local diesel grid at your site. Now we can do both. Hopefully this news is as pleasurable for you, as it is for us.
 
The road to here has explored many grid-tie options, and found most all of them less than ideal. Here’s the handicapping of the main scenarios:
  1. An inverter based grid tie, using solar or wind equipment, is in principle easy, but for a 20kw system the inverter alone is @$10,000. You still need to rectify the AC to DC, and more importantly you still need to smart control the genset governor to set power levels and error driven engine shut downs. Also, the combination of inverter and rectifier is going to consume about 10-12% of your power. OK, you can use a PM DC genhead, if you can find one (and ouch on the price) but you still have 5-8% inverter losses.
  2. A synchronous (inductive) genhead is easy to sync as a DIY option, as the grid is energizing the fields, thus sync is native. However, proper async genheads are double the cost of standard genheads, and you still need to add all the genset power controls and protective features. This equipment is mostly only built for large scale systems, and at related price points. Also, asynchronous genheads are usually about 3-5% less efficient than synch ones, and moreso if you are repurposing an inductive motor as a generator.
  3. A sync system for a standard synchronous (auto-exciting) genhead is the typical path, and most efficient path, for grid tie of spinning generating media. However most equipment is made for industrial or utility scale systems, and priced accordingly. To date there been little driver to make this equipment value optimized for the under 100kw market, like there has been for residential scale solar. Furthermore, the equipment has historically been offered as separate control boxes for the different functions: sync control, voltage control, governor control for power level set, and protective functions. When putting all these pieces together I’ve always ended up with prices in the $15-20k range.
What has changed recently on our end recently, is finding new all function integrated genset controller and sync systems that are reasonably priced. In our new world of “electronics always tend towards free”, what was previously complicated multi box systems, are now getting packaged into simple multi function blocks, with nice software and push button interfaces. And certified out of the box!
 
Multiple providers now have interesting options in this space. We reviewed the offerings from Deif, ComAp, Deep Sea, Gov Corp of America, Besler, Woodward, Beckwith, Minco, Heinzmann, etc etc and found the best balance of factors in the Deep Sea Equipment. We chose Deep Sea as it provided not only the most attractive solution for the current grid tie issue, but also has a full line of expansion equipment for future needs like remote monitoring and multiple unit paralleling.
 
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Our solution is based on the Deep Sea Electronics 8610 module. We’ve mounted this unit in a custom genhead dog house, and added the needed smart mains contactor, current sensor coils, and interface with our Woodward governor and Power Pallet PCU controls. Sadly the solution is not as simple as just an add-on box to the mains out, as you need to control the genset governor, voltage regulator, and integrate start up and error shut down states across the gasifier and engine control systems. This means a full integration down into the bowels of the Power Pallet control system.
 
Nonetheless, the outcome we’ve achieved is a full and complete onboard solution. This includes gen-to-grid sync, grid feed level control, gen-to-grid voltage matching, grid and gen protective functions, and onboard master contactor for connect and disconnect. All that is left is to run wire from the onboard Power Pallet contactor to your breaker panel on site.  
 
A critical feature of this solution is the elimination of the usual engineering project for the smart mains contactor on the install end. This can be a non-trivial problem, usually found as an after thought in the project. Most grid tie gensets leave this to the installer, which not only requires a smart contactor, but also lots of control wire and current sensors run back and forth between the panel and the generating equipment. Each installation is custom, so an electrical engineer and drawings will be required, in addition to the equipment and install costs. In the process the local code agent is sure to get shaky as they’ve never seen anything like what you’re doing. This problem consumed 10s of thousands of dollars in the 100kW Powertainer project at University of Minnesota, and we still don’t have it correct. Thus here we’ve been highly motivated to solve it all on-board, and relieve you of similar messes in the future.
 
The Deep Sea unit and other added electronics are certified for all common regulatory regimes (most importantly CE). The Mecc Alte genhead is similarly certified. However, the Power Pallet itself is yet to be certified (we’re working on this), but to date we’ve typical found exemptions for experimental or emerging equipment. You need to assess what is likely OK / not OK in your particular location. So far, creativity is working for early and one off installs.
 
Write to “sales@allpowerlabs.org” if you’d like more information.
 
 
 

20 comments to Grid-tie for the 20kW Power Pallet

  • Thor Kofoed

    I am interested to bye one of your 20 Kw power pallets. Maybe I want to bye 10 or more?
    I live in Denmark, so what do we do?

    Kind regards
    Thor

    • Hello Thor!

      Thanks for your interest! You will soon receive an email from our Sales department with some detailed information about the Power Pallets. You will then be contacted by our Director of Sales, Dusty Swartz, who is responsible for multi-unit sales. We do ship units all over the world including the Nordic countries.

      Kind regards,
      Brian Ballek
      Customer Service & Sales Support

  • Interested in purchasing a grid tie system and adding your product to our wind and solar options for our customers. What is and what is not included in the quoted 4,995 price?

    • The $4,995 price is for the additional grid-tie hardware, which will be offered exclusively as a pre-installed option on the 20kW Power Pallet. There will most likely be additional costs (not included in the $4,995 price) for actually connecting the unit to the grid. These costs will be determined by the requirements of your local utility and the electrician you will hire to perform the grid connection. Therefore, before purchasing a 20kW Power Pallet with the grid-tie option, be sure to obtain the grid-tie requirements from your local utility and discuss them with a licensed electrician.

      Also, please note that the grid-tie requirements of your utility could change during the 120 days between when your payment is received and when your grid-tie Power Pallet is ready to ship, so be sure to ask your utility whether any short-term changes to their requirements are planned.

  • Thanks Jim
    An important for those who also think:

    “bring the machine to where the fuel and users already are” as opposed to the usual “haul the fuel to the plant and rebroadcast the results to users”,

  • Sufian

    I’m interested with 20KW system, but wonder how long it takes for delivery to Malaysia?

    Do you have any sales representative here or nearest?

  • This is a great news! We are planning for a demonstration project of 60 kW gasifier power plant for electrcfication of a small remote village in Liberia. One 10 kW unit is under testing at Booker Washington Institute, in Kakata, Liberia.

    A questions I have is
    1.Will it be cost effective to operate multiple 20 kW GEK units (may be 3-4 units) in parallel to supply power to a distribution system for village electrificaiton? Or do you recommend single GEK unit of 60-80 kW?
    2. is the testing of 100 kW unit at University of Minnesota over? Any results published? If so, can I get it? Who is the contact person at the University for further informaiton?

    Thanks for your response.

    • Our Sales team will contact you soon regarding the project in Liberia. The Power Pallet is definitely economical when compared to the price of electricity from diesel generators, due to the high price of diesel and of transporting diesel fuel to remote locations. At this time, we can not offer a single Power Pallet delivering 60-80kW. Our largest shipping unit is the 20kW Power Pallet. We do have a working prototype 100kW gasifier, which we call the PowerTainer, which was designed as a research project for the University of Minnesota. The University’s Jim Barbour made this excellent presentation about the project at the Bioenergydays conference.

      For Village projects, a small group of Power Pallets can offer several advantages over a single, larger generator:

      • smaller units are easier to transport into difficult locations than a single, very heavy device
      • having multiple units allows you to experiment with biomass feedstocks (types, particle sizes, preparation methods) simultaneously
      • distributing generation over smaller units can reduce the amount of wiring and make the system more resilient to disruption
      • the engines, generator, and parts used in the smaller Power Pallets are easier to find and install; larger units are generally built around engines requiring special parts and very skilled mechanics

      Kind regards,
      ALL Power Labs, Customer Service & Support

  • Paul N

    Great news indeed!

    I have been following your (impressive) progress for years, but the missing link, for me, has always been the ability to (easily) grid tie. I have built off-grid micro hydro, and the problems of connecting 5-50kW hydro system to the grid are similar, so I am impressed with your solution, and its price tag.

    This constitutes the last major barrier to using these things for a small renewable energy business, without having to invent things from scratch.

    I look forward to seeing how you now apply this thinking to the 100kW system!

    Regards,
    Paul in BC

  • T K Lim

    Please rush me some details on the power pallets

    • Hello Mr. Lim! Information was sent to you by email on April 15th. If you did not receive it, please contact us at sales@allpowerlabs.org. If you have not dealt with ALL Power Labs before, the best way to contact us is via the contact form on our web site. This form gives us some additional information about you that helps us to help you.

      Regards,
      ALL Power Labs, Customer Service & Support

  • DJB

    I’ve found a very good unit for combining the output of multiple sets, fixed import, Peak import, Fixed export, Excess export to the grid.

    I don’t work for the company or have an affiliation.
    the one thing I really like about the unit is how simple and easy it is to cascade.

    hope it’s of some use, there are also lots of downloadable support documents.

    Keep up the great work

    http://www.selco.com/Products/Products/C6200%20Generator%20Controller%20-%20FlexGen.aspx

  • ANTE KRVAVICA

    I am interested to bye one of your 20 Kw power pallets. Maybe I want to bye 10 or more?
    I live in Croatia, so what do we do?

    Kind regards
    ante

    • Hello Ante,

      We would be happy to help you with that. We do ship units all over the world. You will soon receive an email with more product information. If you would like to proceed with a purchase, please send an email to sales@allpowerlabs.org and include:

      1. the full address and telephone number where you receive your mail
      2. the full address where the unit(s) should be shipped
      3. the name and telephone number of the person who is responsible for receiving the unit

      Kind regards,
      ALL Power Labs, Customer Service & Support

  • Fanuel Ndonde

    Please can you clarify what do you mean POWER PALLET 20Kw is it a combination of gasifier and generator

    The way it looks is the thing which I was looking for
    Fanuel Ndonde
    From Tanzania
    Best regards

    • Austin

      What this means is that the Power Pallet has a gasifier onboard that produces syngas, and an engine and AC electrical generator onboard which consumes the gas to generate electricity. The GEK gasifiers do not have engines and generators onboard, and only produce syngas. (Please be aware that the gasifiers are manually operated and require a source of suction to operate; the gasifiers ship with an ejector-venturi system that requires access to compressed air to produce suction.)

  • dan

    Good day,
    I am into energy projects and your solution is very good for my clients. We have 220V, 50Hz. I need technical details, installation schema and prices to perform the feasibility studies.

    • Hi Dan!

      I will send you technical and pricing information about the Power Pallet. Once it arrives, please use our Contact Form to tell us a little more about yourself and your projects.

      Kind regards,
      APL Customer Support

  • fabio

    some questions..
    1) there is a unit with 8000 hours (or more) of continuous use? is possible to document it?
    2) is now P.P. CE certified?
    3) any reseller in Romania?
    4) any exerience with Arundo Donax? (Giant Cane)
    tank you
    Regards
    Fabio Ghiara

    • Hello Fabio,

      The new Power Pallet, with the v5 GEK gasifier, is just now being launched. So there are no documented sites with over 8000 operating hours, but this should change in the next 12 months. The Power Pallet is also not yet CE certified, but that is being addressed by our European partners, so that CE certification should also be a reality by the end of this year.

      We do not yet have a distributor in Romania. If you are interested in becoming one, please use our contact form to let us know. Then Thierry Levy, our Global Sales Specialist for Europe, will contact you for further discussion.

      Arundo Dorax has potential as a feed stock, but it must be cut into appropriately sized pieces that are completely separate, without strings or fibers that can tangle and block the system. This cane species is also very high in silica, which can produce glass “clinkers” that block the system. The v5 gasifier in the new Power Pallet has some ways of dealing with this but at this time we can not recommend arundo dorax as a fuel. For more details, see our appropriate fuels chart and FAQs.

      Kind regards,
      APL Customer Service

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