Straight Talk About Backup Generator Emissions

With challenge emerges opportunity and innovation. As industry works towards carbon free goals, new sustainable technologies are emerging to help organizations get there faster. At Enchanted Rock, our mission is to keep the power on for our customers with cutting edge power resiliency technology that can both advance the decarbonization effort and ensure resiliency – a win-win for the environment, our customers, and our communities.  

Industry Brief

Backup Generator Emissions:
Fact vs. Fiction

Frequently Asked Questions

How do natural gas compound emissions compare to diesel?

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that exposure to diesel exhaust can lead to serious health conditions including asthma and respiratory illnesses. It can worsen existing heart and lung disease, especially in children and the elderly, resulting in increasing emergency room and hospital visits, absences from work or school, and premature deaths.

When you look at the numbers, the fact is that diesel, whether Tier 2 or the “cleaner” Tier 4, produces higher emissions than natural gas and other gas fuel alternatives.

Enchanted Rock’s natural gas microgrids offer cleaner local emissions than diesel by orders of magnitude with practically no run limitations – allowing facilities to support both resiliency and sustainability strategies.

How do natural gas noise emissions compare to diesel?

Due to the lower compression ratio, spark ignition engines are quieter than similarly sized diesel generators. Enchanted Rock’s patented design achieves a sound level of <68 dBa at 7 meters in its standard package.  Typical diesel generators need optional sound attenuation enclosures, adding to costs and space requirements.

Can biodiesel reduce emissions?

Biodiesel is a renewable, biodegradable alternative fuel made from a mix of modified vegetable oils and diesel fuel. Life cycle analysis completed by Argonne National Laboratory found that emissions for 100% biodiesel (B100) are 74% lower than those from petroleum diesel (Source: U.S. Department of Energy). However, a notable disadvantage is the temperature sensitivity, causing it to mold in warm environments or thicken in colder environments.

Can natural gas backup power support onsite solar for reduced emissions?

In the right applications, onsite solar provides cost effective renewable energy for commercial and industrial buildings. Feasibility considerations include space constraints, land costs, utility tariffs, and weather-driven relationships between load and solar output. Microgrids running only on solar, or even when storage is added, are not effective in providing 100% reliability for longer term outages, but a hybrid approach is economically and technically feasible for resilience purposes.  A hybrid configuration of natural gas or RNG integrated with renewables can optimize economics and reduce fuel use while providing grid support services and enabling a greener grid.

Can backup power be decarbonized?

While diesel generators have long been a defacto backup power standard for many industries due to responsiveness and low cost, the push for decarbonization has brought them into the spotlight due to their higher emissions. Modern alternatives, including natural gas, renewable natural gas or biogas, solar, and storage can be used in hybrid microgrid approach to virtually eliminate the emission of pollutants such as NOx, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds, which contribute to local air quality problems.