Jorge Machuca
Director Project Business
View from the Top

Larger Generators Provide More Energy Independence

Wed, 10/21/2015 - 15:44

Q: What are the main opportunities in the Mexican power generation sector for Cummins?

A: We keep finding companies in all industries that have been waiting for months for their interconnection to CFE’s grid to be set up. For mines, the average waiting period for the interconnection is four months. Cummins responds to this situation through the temporary generation of energy by leasing or selling industrial energy generators. Given the continuous problems with the energy that is supplied by CFE, this market has grown dramatically. CFE’s grid infrastructure does not sufficiently cover the need for high-voltage transmission lines in remote locations. These are the locations where interconnection represents a large investment of both time and money. To address this, Cummins and similar private companies provide distributed generation, which takes electricity generation to where the client needs it, when the client needs it. For example, there was a critical energy crisis in 2002 that was caused by low water levels at Mexican hydropower dams. CFE then opened up a call for tenders to provide around 600MW of power generation capacity to prevent energy cuts in states such as Durango and Zacatecas. Cummins took part in this call and won contracts to supply 200MW. We were able to generate 160MW in 41 days, an achievement that was unprecedented.

Q: What unique added value do Cummins’ emergency systems offer?

A: Our emergency systems consist of an integrated motor generator that acts as an alternator. If there is a power outage, our generators automatically produce the energy that is required. Through advanced control systems, our emergency generators ensure the generation of high quality electricity by minimizing the variation in voltage and frequency. This allows advanced apparatuses in different industries to function without interruption. The company’s generators rely on internal combustion engines that run on diesel or natural gas, but Cummins also manages hybrid systems that incorporate renewable energy sources.

Q: How do your generators and motors help the mining industry to overcome its energy challenges?

A: We understand that our mining clients are not dedicated to power generation but rather to the extraction of minerals. Cummins offers a wide range of generators, from 30kW to 2,750kW to meet the needs of any mine. We perform civil and electrical engineering, as well as the operation and maintenance of the equipment. In this way, all our clients have to do is turn the generators on and we can guarantee a continuous high-quality supply of energy every day at all hours. Once the mine is connected to the CFE grid, our equipment is then used for emergency purposes. Our distributors are able to respond immediately since they typically have technicians stationed at or near the mines. Additionally, Cummins holds stock of parts and components in strategic regional locations, as well as a distribution center in San Luis Potosi, and an efficient flow of components from the US. Cummins guarantees energy generation 98% of the time to all clients, making the uptime of our systems among the highest in the industry.

Q: How do your generation systems help mining companies achieve their sustainability-driven goals?

A: Most of the mining companies that we work with, like Peñoles, Grupo Mexico, and Goldcorp, are very environmentally conscious and make sure that their equipment meets national requirements. Thanks to newer technologies, we are finding new components, such as better injectors, that improve the efficiency of consumption which, in turn, reduces emissions. A better engine will provide more efficient fuel consumption and run for longer without maintenance, which is very important in the mining and oil and gas sectors. Unfortunately, some mines still use turbines that run on fuel oil, which is highly polluting. The emission levels of our diesel engines are far below the levels of fuel oil turbines. We make sure that our waste is kept to a minimum by cleaning the oil that is mixed with the diesel and then reusing it. We encourage mining companies to reduce their environmental impact by improving their mineral processing techniques and disposing the waste from these processes appropriately.

Q: What innovative products will Cummins be introducing next to the Mexican mining industry?

A: We are developing a motor for energy generation used for industrial pumps and are planning to launch it in 2015. Now in its final stages of development, this generator is specifically designed for large mining companies and will be able to generate 4MW. We already have a generator that generates 2,750kW with gas and diesel. Thanks to the reforms that were recently passed in Mexico, gas will play a fundamental role in the future of Mexico’s industries by helping to reduce the cost of electricity and the emissions of toxic gases. We also have engines that are used in excavators and haul trucks, and we provide solutions called Power Units that can be used for transportation belts.