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Foresighting report: non-grid connected micro-generation


The report aimed to assess the market and potential for non-grid micro-generation products sized 10 kW and below. It identified potential market sectors and applications and considered whether these had a realistic potential to generate tens of thousands of systems a year. The report also looked at three sectors in greater depth to better understand their potential for micro-generation technologies: auxiliary power units (APUs) for trucks; leisure (recreational vehicles and boats); and telecommunications.


The methodology consisted of: a screening study of APUs for trucks, military (tactical generators and APUs), telecommunications, leisure (boats and caravans or motorhomes), off-grid homes (rural electrification in developing economies and off-grid homes in developed economies), remote monitoring, aircraft, temporary power, and cathodic protection; and a detailed sector analysis of auxiliary power units (APUs) for trucks, leisure (recreational vehicles and boats), and telecommunications.


In terms of APUs for trucks, the report finds that many trucks require power to run on-board electronics or air conditioning systems when parked. Currently, truck engine idling is an inefficient way to meet power needs. There is a market for internal combustion engine based APU systems, but these have not been widely accepted by the trucking industry. and competing solutions are available, such as larger batteries. The report estimates that the total market range in North America, Europe and Japan is likely to be in the 600,000 to 700,000 range. The telecoms market requires prime power for off-grid sites and back-up power for grid-connected sites. The main limitations of back-up batteries are their maintenance requirements and relatively short life-spans. The market for back-up batteries for the telecoms industry is large, taking into account the replacement market and 'new build market'. For prime power, providing power to remote off-grid sites is likely to be costly, unless the systems are based on renewable energy. The report outlines differing estimates, but suggests that it cannot fully quantify the future prime power market. The two key requirements of land based forces are small tactical generators and vehicle APUs. The majority of tactical generators used by the US army are reaching the end of their operational lives and will have to be replaced. Bulk transport of fuel reportedly accounts for around 60 per cent of logistic tonnage transported by the US army: installing APUs in more land vehicles would improve vehicle efficiency and provide the additional benefit of a lower IR signature. The combined US and European market for small tactical generators is approximately 6,000 tactical generators per year and for APUs, is estimated to be 13,000 units per year.


The report recommends that the APUs for trucks market should be further examined. The report finds that although there is not a large existing market and the size of the future market is uncertain, there is a clear need to be solved: a cost-effective APU system that is efficient, reliable, clean, quiet and has low maintenance requirements. In terms of the telecoms sector, the report suggests that the backup power markets are worth consideration, given the scale of the market and the weakness of existing batteries. Pursuing prime power applications is more questionable: without considering new build, the market is likely to be less than 10,000 units a year and likely to be limited to photovoltaic (PV) and wind power. However, the telecoms market may move into expanding mobile telephone networks in developing economies. The military tactical generators market, although small, is likely to increase in size and could be very profitable as military organisations will pay well for products designed exactly for their needs and there is potential for lifetime spending contracts. A market exists for new tanks and other military vehicles that require APUs and the market may increase if the US Army and others decide to fit a greater number of vehicles with APUs.

Author ITI Energy
Published Year 2010
Report Type Research
  • Business infrastructure
    Supporting key sectors
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