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October 11, 2018   |

Press Release

Power When it Matters: Diesel’s Vital Role in Black Start Recovery

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Diesel remains the technology of choice in an emergency ‘black start’ system, thanks to its rapid and unique response time and load-carrying capacity

While there are other technology and fuel-type options, none match diesel’s unique capabilities, especially when it comes to emergency backup power

October 11, 2018 (WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Loss of electrical grid power and its restoration from black-out conditions are key concerns for economic, public health and safety considerations across the United States. Technologies designed to restore power to full operation must be reliable and proven, which is why most all-system operators rely on diesel generators as part of their black start systems.

“Diesel remains the technology of choice in an emergency ‘black start’ system, thanks to its rapid and unique response time and load-carrying capacity,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “Uninterrupted electrical supply is a necessity in American society, and blackouts result in broad economic losses as well as public health, safety and security concerns.”

These are sentiments shared in a formal statement to the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, prior to a full committee hearing to examine black start procedures in the United States. The full statement is reproduced below.

“Reliable sources of emergency backup power as part of a black start system are essential to mitigate the downtime and economic impacts of a system outage,” continued Schaeffer. “Whether due to severe weather events – like Hurricane Michael, now threatening Florida, or cybersecurity threats, restoring full scale grid power from black out conditions is a vital national interest. While there are other technology and fuel-type options, none match diesel’s unique capabilities, especially when it comes to emergency backup power.

“Beyond the black start system role for diesel generators, nearly every community in the nation relies on diesel generators for some aspects of emergency power. Schools, hospitals, police and fire stations, wastewater treatment facilities, courts, shelters, and more – all use diesel gensets to provide reliable, economic and sustainable mission-critical services. Just over a month ago, an earthquake knocked out power to a nuclear power plant in Japan. A bank of diesel generators came online seamlessly, allowing necessary repair work to conclude while keeping the plant and the surrounding community safe.

“Further, our digital and interconnected world of the Cloud requires uninterrupted electrical power. Cloud computing is manifested in data centers and server farms across the country, where in nearly all instances, banks of diesel generators are on standby to keep data centers and our connected economy moving if and when the power goes out. 

“Advanced diesel engines are also playing a role in microgrid systems where they are integrated with renewable energy systems (wind and solar), storage and advanced controllers that optimize renewable energy as prime power while dispatching diesel generator power in the case of intermittent or complete loss of renewables. An interesting application of a diesel-backed sustainable microgrid was seen during Super Bowl 50 in San Francsico, Calif. A large bank of near-zero emissions ‘Tier 4’ diesel generators operating on 100 percent renewable diesel fuel powered Super Bowl City, helping reduce the event’s greenhouse gas emissions along with other criteria pollutants, while fully powering the event.”

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October 11, 2018


Before the United States Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources Concerning the Full Committee Hearing to Examine Black Start

In today’s highly connected, digital and integrated world, uninterrupted electrical supply is well beyond convenience. It is a necessity. Loss of grid power creates broad economic, public health, safety and security concerns. A report by the Council of Economic Advisors estimates that the average outage costs between $18 billion and $33 billion. Severe weather events, mechanical failures and cybersecurity concerns all pose a growing threat to our electrical generating and distribution network, and our reliable, continuous electrical supply.

In the event of a power station/grid failure, restoration of electrical power to the generating unit is through a black start process, involving a generating unit that can restart its own power without support from the grid in the event of a major system collapse or a system-wide blackout.

Effective, tested plans, systems and procedures to ensure continuous electrical power, as well as plans for contingencies in the event of the loss of generating system capabilities or grid connectivity, are essential roles of government and system operators as well as underlying technology providers.

Diesel-powered generators are an integral part of the black start plan for most system operators for several reasons.

Beyond black start capabilities, mobile and stationary diesel generators along with diesel fuel are a proven and reliable source of both prime and backup power generation – and have been for decades. These units are prided for their reliability, durability, portability and baseload power capabilities.

The importance and confidence in diesel technologies used for emergency backup power is evident here in the nation’s capital, where more than 160 diesel generators are deployed by the government of the District of Columbia and provide emergency backup power to schools, hospitals, shelters, courts, police and firehouses, correctional facilities, universities, and utilities in the event of an outage.

The Diesel Technology Forum is a not-for-profit educational organization representing the leaders in diesel engines, including those that manufacture stationary and mobile generators, as well as vehicle and equipment manufacturers, component suppliers, emissions control technology companies and fueling interests. Resources to learn more about diesel technology in power generation and providing black start capabilities include.

To learn more about diesel technology including specific data about the numbers and types of diesel applications on the road and at work in your state, please visit our website at www.dieselforum.org

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About The Diesel Technology Forum

The Diesel Technology Forum is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of Diesel engines, fuel and technology. Forum members are leaders in clean Diesel technology and represent the three key elements of the modern clean Diesel system: advanced engines, vehicles and equipment, cleaner Diesel fuel and emissions-control systems. For more information, visit http://www.dieselforum.org.


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Media Inquiries:
Allen Schaeffer
Executive Director
(301) 668-7230

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