genset market beats Y2K blues : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Power engineering: genset market beats Y2K blues Catalyst: Genset sales for on-site generation and standby power have stayed strong in the first half of 2000.

19/10/2000 18:07:00 (CommentWire) - So the boom in genset sales last year wasn't just Y2K panic. Backup generators are still selling well thanks to changing attitudes towards security of supply, for the moment at least.

In the run up to the year 2000, generator sales reached unprecedented levels throughout the world. With abundant scare stories of power failures and technological disruptions, many industries reassured themselves with the acquisition of some on-site power generation capability. It looked like it would only be a matter of time before the bubble burst and generator sales came tumbling down. But genset sales have stayed high for the first six to nine months of 2000.

A major reason for this seems to be the greater awareness that Y2K gave to the merits of on-site power generation. The vulnerability of business and industry to the effects of power shortages has been highlighted, particularly in regions where power supplies have been taken for granted for too long. While the angst of Y2K may have been unfounded, industry chiefs still learnt valuable lessons from the experience.

New technology companies have also demonstrated an appetite for stationary power generation. eCommerce companies and ISPs are all aware of the importance of maintaining reliable and consistent power in the age of constant information transfer. Any breakdown in IT systems would be extremely detrimental to the image of a company.

The future of generators is less bright, however. The genset market will be squeezed by the development of new power generation methods. Fuel cells are a long way from completion and cost around 10 times the amount of a generator, but their efficiency and environmental friendliness are second to none. Micro turbines are also beginning to establish themselves as a viable alternative to gensets. While costs remain high, the environmental benefits of microturbines are also undoubted, and the technology is far enough advanced to threaten genset sales seriously in the near future.

Combined with the effects of soaring fuel prices, the new technologies look more and more viable every day. Genset manufacturers will need some backup of their own.

-- Martin Thompson (, October 20, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ