Internal Combustion Generation. Internal combustion generating units, also known as diesel engines, have one or more cylinders in which fuel combustion occurs. Internal combustion generating units convert the chemical energy of fuels into mechanical energy in a design similar to an automobile engine. Attached to the shaft of the generator, the engine provides the mechanical energy to drive the generator to produce electricity. Internal combustion generating units for power plants are typically designed to operate on either four- or two-stroke cycles.
Internal combustion generators are small and range in capacity from 2 to 6 megawatts. They are more efficient than gas turbines. In addition, capital costs are low, they are easily transported, and they can generate electricity almost immediately upon startup. For this reason, internal combustion generators are often used for small loads and for emergency power.