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What Is Parallel Generation?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2014
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Parallel generation is a term that is used to identify the practice of consumers using various strategies to generate electric power rather than relying solely on the efforts of an electric company to generate and supply power on an ongoing basis. In times past, institutions and businesses would often establish a means of electric power generation that was either completely self-contained or could act as a backup source in the event that the electrical supply from a utility was temporarily interrupted. More recently, residential consumers have begun to explore parallel generation using alternative forms of energy as a means of augmenting the power supplied by utilities, while still remaining connected to the grid.

Traditionally, parallel generation has been seen as a way to deal with emergency situations in which some event has temporarily affected the normal process of electric power distribution. For example, a hospital may have its own substation that is capable of generating a limited amount of power if the supply from the local power company is interrupted due to some sort of disaster. By having a means in place to generate at least some power to supply the hospital, it is possible to continue essential services to patients and keep them alive and comfortable throughout the temporary crisis.

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In like manner, parallel generation of power is common for many businesses that rely heavily on electricity to maintain services to customers. Telecommunication companies typically have power backup systems that help to keep facilities operational even if the usual power source is suddenly not available. Manufacturing companies may also have an on-site power generation facility that can automatically go into production if the power supply from the local provider is interrupted for any reason. In situations of this nature, the goal is to prevent financial losses that would otherwise occur from the inability to continue production through the power blackout.

Customer parallel generation is not often viewed as a means of competing with electric companies or even serving as a complete substitute for receiving power through the local grid. Rather, this form of alternative power generation is intended for short-term use when the power supply is not available for some reason. This is slowly changing as more consumers look to ways to create hybrid power systems that incorporate solar or wind energy production as means of reducing day to day reliance on the local power grid. In many jurisdictions, businesses and residents who choose to create this sort of hybrid system must make sure their efforts are in compliance with local safety standards, a measure that helps to minimize the chances of damage or danger to human life due to a faulty or unsafe generator or other apparatus used in the production of the alternatives to relying solely on the local power company.

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