Log in | Subscribe | RSS feed

What’s New

Study shows a rapid increase of diesel backup generators in California

7 October 2021

A new study by economic and public policy consultancy M.Cubed found a proliferation of backup generators across California, with nearly 90% being diesel-fueled.

The generator population jumped by 22% in the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) over the last year, and by 34% in the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) over the last three years. In 2021, the two districts were collectively home to 23,507 backup generators with a capacity of 12.2 GW, about 15% of California’s entire electricity grid. Of these, 20,907 were diesel-fueled.

The report estimated that diesel generators in the South Coast and Bay Area communities alone produce roughly 20 metric tonnes of PM2.5, 62 tonnes of VOCs, and almost 1,000 tonnes of NOx annually.

For comparison, in the South Coast Air Basin alone, the total respective emissions were: 66.4 short tons per day for PM2.5, 470.1 tons per day for VOC, and 539.9 tons per day for NOx (2012 data, 2016 AQMP, 1 short ton = 0.907 tonne).

“We have long been concerned about the proliferation of diesel backup generators here in the Bay Area, as highlighted in this report,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. “Emissions from these backup generators can harm local residents, regional air quality and the global climate. This is particularly true in communities already overburdened by air pollution and the Air District is actively pursuing regulations to curb this pollution.”

The M.Cubed report estimated that the extra pollution from backup generators may trigger upwards of $31.8 million in annual health costs in the Bay Area and $103.9 million in South Coast communities, due to increases in mortalities, heart attacks, hospital visits and other adverse consequences—particularly in vulnerable communities.

The study focused on the adverse health impacts of emissions from backup generators. The benefits of backup generators for the California economy or its health care facilities—by ensuring uninterrupted power supply—were not considered or quantified in the research.

The study also noted that the widespread reliance on diesel generators in California could pose ‘significant obstacles’ to achieving the state’s greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The survey is a continuation of earlier M.Cubed research completed in May 2020.

Source: M.Cubed