frequently asked questions

Is there any detriment to the back-up generator function if signed up to Empower? After all, that's why we bought the generator in the first place.
There is no detriment to back-up cover. The power generated meets the local load first. Resilience of emergency cover should be enhanced by the Empower monitoring service, and so it is a benefit.
What's the primary source of revenue?
The revenue stream is almost entirely from capacity being offered to the SEM - provided the availability is maintained, the capacity revenue flows.
Will my generator(s) run frequently or for long periods?
Diesel generation is normally lightly used, as it serves as emergency back-up for the grid. There may be regular short runs for maintenance and testing purposes, but there seems little prospect of regular long runs. In any case, running costs are fully reimbursed and regular running will generally enhances generator reliability.
Will generator running costs be covered?
Yes, the SEM bid will cover running costs for dispatched generation, and these costs will be reimbursed.
How frequently can we expect payment?
Monthly, 21 days after month end.
Is this environmentally unfriendly? I thought diesel generation was both expensive and carbon-intensive!
It would be if the generators were heavily-used, but in fact they are usually very lightly used. Because diesel generation is fast-starting, its availability can help limit the level of alternative large-scale gas or coal generation to be kept running in reserve. The net effect may well actually reduce carbon emissions.
What is involved in the initial studies?
It is a straightforward process for the client. However, there is a considerable amount of technical data to be assimilated by Empower and provided to the Distribution System Operator for analysis.
Which is better AGU or DSU (aggregated generator unit and demand side unit)?
At present, AGU is authorised in Northern Ireland and DSU in Republic of Ireland. So the issue is one of location and jurisdiction.
Who is responsible for maintenance and repair?
The responsibility for maintenance rests with the generator owner. However there may be alternative options to consider.
Can't we do aggregation ourselves?
Not usually. There are two key factors to consider. 1. Scale - the Grid Code requires an AGU to have at least 4MW. 2. Specialism - maintaining a 247 control room operation and the necessary technical resource.
What steps are likely to be required if we accept an Empower proposal?
Network Study, receipt and acceptance of DSO offer and connection agreement update, installation of SCADA systems for remote control (along with telecoms and meters), Generator Controller upgrades and synchronisation, Network protection features required by DSO, Market Acceptance Testing. These steps take time, typically 6-12 months, and significant costs to Empower.
Contract Duration?
In order to help cover its upfront costs, Empower operates with a 5 year contract term.
Can we tell what the net revenue will be?
Yes, it is specified in the contract, as long as the generator availability is maintained and the project remains viable.
When are the generators likely to be dispatched?
The TSO will dispatch diesel generation when there is unexpected generation failure elsewhere, for example if a large power station or interconnector trips out, there is a sudden surge of very high wind that trips out wind turbines, or if there is a problem on the transmission or distribution network during bad weather that causes system instability. These are infrequent events.
Does this proposal mean we should actually get a financial return from the investment we have already made into back-up generation?
Yes. Subject to a successful feasibility study.
What is an AGU?
An Aggregator Generating Unit (AGU) is authorised by the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation via Regulatory Agreement to offer a group of generators to the TSO for central dispatch. What this really means is that an AGU partners with local organisations to provide emergency reserve generation to the grid, aggregated as one large unit.
What is a DSU?
A Demand Side Unit (DSU) is authorised in Ireland by the Commission for Energy Regulation to aggregate Dispatchable Demand. What this really means is that a DSU partners with local organisations to provide emergency generation/demand reduction to the grid, aggregated as one large unit.
What is the SEM?
The Single Electricity Market (SEM) is the wholesale electricity market operating in Ireland and Northern Ireland, operated the Single Electricity Market Operator (SEMO), a joint venture of Eirgrid plc and SONI Ltd.
Is there a lot of hassle or cost for us? Isn't it rather complicated?
NO! It will be a simple painless transaction, where Empower looks after costs and aggravation, and the generator owner enjoys the benefits of a risk-free revenue.
So tell me again, what are the benefits for my organisation?
There are 4 benefits:
  1. Availability payments - based on generator capacity and up-time (the main item, and one which is predictable)
  2. Run-time revenue - based on power dispatched
  3. Generator reliability - regular testing and ongoing monitoring help assure performance when required
  4. Industry efficiency - your generator can help reduce carbon emissions and keep costs lower for other electricity consumers.
Empower Generation Limited
Wesler House, 45 Church View
Holywood BT18 9DP, N. Ireland
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