Diesel and gas gensets may be a $21 billion business in 2022 (said IHS) with burgeoning needs in mining, telecom, retail, oil and gas and a trend to mobility. IRENA expected strong growth in such gensets above 1 MW for data centres and in 150-300 kW gensets for many purposes. And yet diesel car sales are dropping 25% a year in the UK and Toyota and others will not be supplying them in Europe from the end of 2018 as an increasing number of cities say when they will ban them. Tightening emissions regulations make diesel cars more expensive to make, so it is only a few years before pure electric cars will be cheaper to make. This was predicted ten years ago by IDTechEx to be around 2022 for small cars and that date is now confirmed by several car manufacturers.
All this - apart from the dates - applies to diesel gensets. That is why Google recently patented chemical factories and servers on ships that use its zero emission Aerial Wind Energy (AWE) drones not fossil fuel gensets. New mobile desalinators from MIT use solar power without batteries. The flexible solar panels even work with a tree branch through them at hurricane time.
General Electric is wisely exploring sale of its industrial gas engine business. These provide 100kW-10MW to keep industrial plants running. It is part of GE's power division, whose profit plunged 45% last year as sales of fossil fuel power plants and services fell sharply.
Dr Peter Harrop of IDTechEx leads a team that has issued a range of reports on what comes next. He says, "As with diesel cars, rejection of diesel gensets will come before the full impact of new restrictions. It will be driven by public objection, health concerns, collapse in resale prices and sheer economics. The alternatives will increasingly produce cheaper electricity while avoiding issues of noise, flammability, ugliness and fragile fuel supply pipelines. For example, for most purposes the new wave and tidal harvesters give continuous electricity. They need no infrastructure: they can already match the $1/ kWh of many remote gensets and, unlike them, they have a robust cost reduction roadmap. They are virtually invisible. Diesel and gas genset sales will collapse in a few years from now while off-grid transportable power will climb to $100 billion served by zero emission solar, wind, wave and open tidal power often in combination, with minimal batteries. Even the new wave power already has orders for arrays of up to 100MW. Many of the new forms of wave and tidal power are rapidly redeployable and provide electricity at the touch of a button, some tidal forms even working from a boat or jetty in your local river. For example, the new Seabubble hydroplaning water taxis are zero emission thanks to charging by river flow under the mooring. Inland gensets will use bendable solar with up to twice the efficiency and AWE for example. Bang bang and choke choke is yesterday's story."