Transitioning away from Diesel Generators
Updated: Dec 17, 2019
In the news
The Supreme Court-appointed Environmental Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) is inforcing a ban on the use of diesel generators in the National Capital Region starting October 15 2019 and is expected to last until March 15 2020, along with the deployment of other measures, as per the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
The ban on diesel generators was first implemented during the 2017 winter pollution cycle with areas outside Delhi exempted from the ban because of poor power supply infrastructure. “This year, however, no such concession will be given. We have provided the state governments enough time to improve their power supply situation,” said Bhure Lal, chairman, EPCA. The ban is seen imperative by the EPCA for lowering the air pollution in Delhi, as the trans-boundary movement of pollutants from neighboring cities including Gurugram, Faridabad, Panipat, etc has been found to adversely impact air quality in the capital.
Story of the Diesel Genset
The diesel generator has provided the Indian citizens with trust worthy, reliable and comfortable power supply in the wake of anxiety inducing, erratic grid supply. Entire industries and neighbourhoods rely on diesel gensets for their smooth functioning and operations on a daily basis. Generators act as external sources of electric power come to the rescue and become the lifeline so that necessary activities which require electricity to function do not suffer. In Haryana, there are several areas that do not have any sort of power connection, owning to inadequate infrastructure and transmission constraints. In Gurugram, entire residential sectors do not have access to grid electricity. In such areas, Diesel Generators provide base load power to thousands of residents.
Even though Diesel Generators provide reliable power supply, they are highly polluting. DGs emit significant amounts of NOx and PM 2.5 to the air. NOx is one of the largest contributors to the infamous Delhi Smog. Diesel is also infamous for its high sulphur concentration, which leads to formation for Sulphur Dioxide upon its burning.
Facts & Figures
According to the EPCA Air Pollution Report Card (2017-2018), DGs are responsible for 6% of the NOX Pollution in NCR (Figure 1).
In a 2019 report by CEEW, titled “What is Polluting Delhi’s Air? Understanding Uncertainties in Emissions Inventory”, it is estimated that PM10 emissions caused by DGs range from 0.0%-1% and PM2.5 range from 0.0%-2.1% (SAFAR, IIT-K).
All the research on DG usage and emissions is based on secondary data obtained from Generator Suppliers, DPCC and Chief Electrical Inspectors. The lack of primary data from unbiased parties hamper the process of monitoring real emissions from these sources. It is imperative to measure PM, NOx, CO2, SOx in operational generators in real time to obtain an accurate understanding of emissions profile and to aid EPCA/CEEW research in the future.
Need of the hour: Dual Fuel Generators
Every Commercial, Industrial or Residential building in Delhi NCR has one or multiple Diesel Generators to provide back up power in the case of a power outage. Banning the use of these generators leaves consumers and business with no reliable back up power. DGs are also capital intensive assets, and the price of Natural Gas Generators are at least 3x the cost of Diesel Generators. Businesses and consumers cannot afford to do away with Diesel Generators and buy new Natural Gas Generators. However, an old Diesel Generator can be converted to a Dual Fuel Generator with a simple retrofit, allowing the same Diesel Generator to now use upto 70% of Natural Gas. This conversion doesn't alter the engine performance, or in anyway derate the generator.
The existing DGs can be transitioned to Natural Gas Hybrids which can reduce NOX emissions by 50-70% and CO2 emissions by 10% (Figure 2). Shockingly, the current CPCB emission guidelines have set the same emission limits for a Diesel Generator, Natural Gas Generator and a Dual Fuel Generator. The guidelines only apply to new generators being introduced by an OEM into the Indian market, and currently there is no mechanism to monitor emissions at the end user level.
Natural Gas hybrid generators unlock permanent long term emissions reduction while reducing the cost of fuel consumption in the generators. The Dual Fuel Generator reduces the cost of back up power by upto 30%.
A unit of electricity produced by a Dual Fuel Generator is ~ Rs 5 cheaper than a unit of electricity produced by a DG.
The Dual Fuel transition proves to be economical and viable for the current policy narrative given a new Natural Gas generator is 3 times the cost of a DG.
Most industries plan to still run Diesel Generators and pay the fine if caught as shutting down plants for every power outage is not viable. In some cases, these shutdowns can also create more pollution. For example, if a power outage lasts for more than 5 min in the dying industry in Panipat, all the water and steam used for dying is wasted. Since the Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) also has no electricity, the biological processes are halted which kill all the bacteria used for the process, exponentially increasing effluent levels in the water released from the facility.
Dual Fuel Generators provide the perfect solution to consumers, who now can utilise their existing capital intensive asset (DG), at the same time lowering emissions and operating fuel costs.
Contact Energeia to convert your diesel generators to natural gas hybrids today