The UK is a major producer of generator sets. However, a significant proportion of UK manufacturing is subsequently exported, leading to a lower overall value for the UK market. The UK Genset market, up to 750 kVA, was estimated to have grown by 3% in 2016 in value terms. Overall, the generating set market has experienced good growth since 2013, particularly in 2014 and 2015, and was underpinned by factors such as good growth for residential construction, the recovery of the manufacturing sector and continued growth for the data centres sector.
Another factor underpinning demand has been the steadily increasing power requirements of office and commercial buildings to serve IT and AV equipment, lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning needs. The increasing incidence of weather related disasters leading to supply interruptions have also led to increasing demand for emergency power generation capacity. The telecoms sector has also seen significant growth in demand for gensets, particularly for use with telecoms towers sited in remote off-grid locations. Continuing concerns regarding the shortage of grid capacity and the slow progress of some replacement generation plants have also led to increased demand for gensets, particularly in “mission critical” sectors such as healthcare and data centres.
The main focus of new product development has been around noise, engine efficiency and emissions with the development of advanced optimised engine management systems being introduced. An increasingly common solution to the issues of reducing fuel consumption and emissions is the use of hybrid generating sets that combine a conventional diesel engine with renewable energy sources, such as solar photovoltaic. Other product developments have included the use of cloud computing to enable remote monitoring, the incorporation of fully bunded internal fuel tanks, and the development of gensets offering longer service and fuel replenishment intervals to minimise the cost of maintenance and site visits.
Into the medium-term, annual growth rates averaging of 2-4% are currently forecasts for UK genset market for the period 2016-21, reflecting continuing positive prospects for the market, although at a slower growth rate than in 2014-15. Many of the current trends currently influencing the market are likely to continue in the short-medium term, providing an underlying stimulus to growth in the UK market. However, future prospects are difficult to predict, given the uncertainties as to how the UK economy will perform following the EU ‘Brexit’ decision. Government measures to alleviate concerns over security of energy supply, including the Capacity Market and the Short Term Operating Reserve (STOR) will continue to provide opportunities for UK generator suppliers, though concerns over the use of diesel generators for this application may lead to pressure to switch to alternative fuels.