Volume 15, Issue 84 October 8, 2018
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Selecting Energy Technologies for Power Generation
Editor's Note
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Selecting Energy Technologies for Power Generation
Considerations for choosing between natural gas and diesel


Energy customers in today’s economy are considering whether diesel or natural gas is the better fit for power generation and combined heat and power (CHP) applications. The answer is not easy to find. The commercial and operating characteristics of natural gas and diesel fuel are similar across the technologies, but the technologies themselves and their associated operating costs can vary significantly.

Some advantages of a diesel over a gas engine include higher power density, lower initial installation costs and higher ambient temperature and altitude capabilities. Gas engines, on the other hand, offer better fuel efficiency and low ownership and operating costs, especially in high-hour applications. Gas engines are also well-suited for CHP operations. The technology selection will incorporate fuel choice as part of the decision-making process and the implications of one technology over another vary by application and fuel source. Natural gas is primarily methane (CH4), which has higher energy content relative to other fuels, and thus, it has a relatively lower CO2-to-energy content.

Consideration of access and availability of fuel is probably the most critical decision you can make and should be one of the first. Keep in mind that natural gas availability on site does not necessarily mean that it is available for your project. Consumption of natural gas by an engine or a turbine could be significantly different from current consumption levels.

Ultimately, the decision on technology and fuel is based on a number of factors unique to each application and location.

For more information about exploring technology selection for power generation, download our white paper, “Diesel or Natural Gas?”

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