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But business within the town - 380 km north of Nairobi - booms after the commissioning of a Caterpillar generating unit in May 2005 with other units commissioned in 1996.
The older units comprise WARTSILA F 240 and MAN B&W 5L 28/32 H generators. These units make up the town’s 3.4 MW power plant. The Caterpillar unit is a compete Turnkey project powered by one 3606 Generator Set supplied by Mantrac Kenya Limited, the sole distributor of Caterpillar products in Africa.
The town has a maximum power demand of about 2.1 MW which means that out of the four installed units, three run continuously while one is on standby.
According to Kenya Power Generation Company (Kengen), the new Caterpillar set runs on Heavy Fuel Oil while the other three sets run on Industrial Diesel Oil.
In many parts of the African continent, generators have come to fill the gap in off-grid areas as the source of much needed electrical power. In Ashaka, Nigeria, the Ashaka Cement Captive Power plant, a 12 MW HFO fuelled electrical power plant, Mantrac has an EPC contract for the whole power plant with the supply of 2x16CM32, all their attachment, electrical switch gear and structure steel buildings.
And in Tanzania’s Mnazi Bay Gas Power plant Mantrac has developed a complete electrical power plant comprising in the first phase EPC contract for the whole power plant with the supply of two thirds of the equipment (6xG3520C) & their attachment plus 9 transformers and a medium voltage Switch gear.
In West Africa, the company has set up the Sierra Rutile Power plant.
One of the largest world's largest manufacturers of medium speed engines, Caterpillar also makes generator sets -10 kVA to 220 kVA- that provide electrical power systems, giving both primary and stand by power for a variety of uses. They have wide varieties of uses across Africa- from pumping water to generating industrial level electricity.
Analysts say that generator sets are appropriate in off-grid African region for a variety of reasons. They come in different size for a wide range of customers- from hospitals, offices and hotels and can also be used for emergencies and during power outages.
Small generators are helpful for domestic purposes and can be kept at home. Varying from 2Kv to 5Kv, the small generators can be used for lighting and running pumping domestic water supplies. They are also affordable to many rural based African households.