Diesel technology on front lines of wildfire response, protecting electrical grid, and delivering proven clean air and greenhouse gas emissions benefits.
As California faces the dual challenges of wildfires and extreme temperatures threatening shortages of electricity, diesel powered engines, generators, vehicles and equipment are on the frontline of the response. “At this moment, the importance of proven fuels and technologies like diesel could not be clearer. It also underscores why efforts to restrict or eliminate diesel technology are misguided and will hurt California businesses, leaving them with fewer, less proven, less available and more expensive options, that also put near term climate and clean air goals further out of reach.” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, a not-for-profit association representing manufacturers of diesel engines and equipment, key suppliers of emissions control and other technologies, and fuel producers.
“There is no room for error or experimentation when responding to crisis situations and the need to protect public health and safety. Diesel’s unique combination of power density, energy efficiency, durability, portability, availability of fueling and servicing, and reliability make it the technology of choice in these situations.”
So far in 2020, according to CAL FIRE, there have been over 5,300 wildfire events, and in each of these events, crews rely substantially on a fleet of over 3,000 pieces of equipment. Much of this ground equipment is powered by diesel including traditional fire engines and pumpers, water tankers, off-road vehicles, utility trucks, bulldozers, skid-steer loaders, generators, mobile pumps and others that firefighters use to battle these dangerous blazes. In just the most recent Apple Fire, CAL FIRE reported that 22 trucks, 7 dozers and 21 water tankers were deployed to fight the fire.
“Beyond enabling response to the fire events, diesel technology is a key strategy to ensure continuous electrical supply during extreme weather events and planned safety power shutoffs (PSPS). On June 11, 2020 the California Public Utility Commission responsibly gave the green light for the use of diesel generators in microgrid applications as a response to PSPS. Governor Newsom last week took important steps that removed barriers to the use of backup power generation assets as a key strategy to help prevent rolling blackouts from extreme weather events. The impacts of electrical power disruptions, even in the short term, can be far reaching, including loss of traffic control systems, water treatment facilities, communications outages, risks to food storage and public safety from loss of refrigeration, air conditioning and impacts on other vital services,” said Schaeffer.
“Today’s new generation of diesel emergency backup generators provides safe, reliable, proven and portable power where it is needed, when it is needed and for however long it is needed. For industrial or institutional customers with existing backup units, running those units and disconnecting from the grid frees up important electrical capacity for others. Reliable and continuous supplies of clean diesel fuel are available in California, and many of the existing stand-by generators are equipped with the latest emissions controls that reduce emissions, ensuring that these units can deliver responsive power when called upon.
“According to the latest inventory compiled by the California Air Resources Board, there are an estimated 2,773 diesel units that provide critical backup power in excess of 25 HP. These units, both mobile and stationary, provide backup power to large residences, communities, and medical and critical care facilities while providing power to essential services like water treatment, traffic control and cooling centers among many others.
“In addition to its role in public health and safety applications, diesel is the technology of choice for commercial trucking, construction, agriculture, marine and rail applications. New technology diesel engines help California achieve its clean air and greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals through near-zero emissions performance using ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. Underscoring the sustainability of diesel technology is its suitability for use of renewable diesel and biodiesel fuels in all engines.
“According to the California Energy Commission, between 2011 and 2019 diesel engines using renewable biodiesel fuels contributed more GHG reductions than all electric vehicles combined. Advanced biofuels including biodiesel and renewable diesel fuels reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent while renewable diesel fuel can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80 percent.”
- The use of the newest generation of diesel technology in commercial vehicles has reduced 1.2 million tons of emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and more than 8 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions between 2010 and 2018.
- According to DTF analysis of IHS Markit data, in 2019, 36 percent of all commercial trucks on the road today in California are of the newest generation diesel technology that achieves near zero emissions. The national average is 43%.
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