Don’t just wait for the grid to go down — generator sets are becoming more interactive and smart

by Brianna Crandall — February 14, 2018 — A new report from Navigant Research examines the global market for diesel and natural gas reciprocating generator sets (gensets), providing an analysis of key market developments and issues, with global forecasts that extend through 2026.

Reciprocating generator sets have traditionally been deployed with simple control systems, often sitting dormant until a power outage occurs, but as the global power equation shifts toward generation that is more distributed, intelligent, and interconnected, smart features are being incorporated into gensets at a growing pace.

According to the report, customers are now demanding advanced features such as enhanced maintenance, microgrid interactivity, and demand response, enabled by advances in control technologies and the increasingly ubiquitous connectivity of devices in the Energy Cloud.

The market for smart gensets is expected to surpass $18.5 billion in annual revenue by 2026 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.5 percent.

Adam Forni, senior research analyst at Navigant Research, stated:

Gensets are gaining a surge of smart features, thanks to improved controls and software, and demands from customers that they provide more services. While many older gensets just waited for the grid to go down, smart gensets are increasingly interactive — with human operators, with other DER, and with the grid itself.

Customers adopt smart gensets for a variety of applications, but some common project characteristics include critical loads, remote sites, sophisticated customers, higher fuel costs, and larger and more complex projects. According to the report, genset vendors and controller and software companies are embracing these value streams, both to provide added value to customers and to compete against the falling prices of alternative energy resources like solar and storage.

The report, Smart Gensets: Automated, Interactive, and Analytics-Enabled Reciprocating Generator Sets for Dispatchable Power Applications: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts, analyzes the global market for diesel and natural gas reciprocating gensets for six segments: residential; commercial and industrial (C&I) standby; C&I prime and continuous; C&I combined heat and power (CHP); utility; and resource extraction.

The study provides an analysis of key market developments and issues, with a focus on three key smart genset applications (operator-interactive, microgrid-interactive, and grid-interactive). Global market forecasts, broken out by segment, country, and region, extend through 2026. The report also examines the main technologies related to smart gensets, as well as the competitive landscape. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Navigant Research Web site.