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June 01, 2022   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

The Summer of 2022 Has Officially Begun: Is Our Electric Power Grid Ready?

Diesel generators, used alone or as part of microgrid applications, are increasingly being fueled with renewable biobased diesel fuels that reduce carbon emissions by 50-86% and other emissions as well


Buckle-up and be prepared to set your thermostats back. The headlines the last few weeks about our electrical supply are ominous: One Billion People Are At Risk Of Rolling Blackouts This Summer. “Grids are stretched thin by fossil fuel shortages, drought and heatwaves, commodity disruptions and soaring prices due to the war in Ukraine, and the failed green energy transition where grid operators retired too many fossil fuel generation plants. Combine this all together, and a perfect storm of blackouts threatens much of the Northern Hemisphere.”

From coast to coast, grid operators are talking openly and loudly about their concerns about adequate power supply to meet demand over the next 4-6 months and beyond.

North America’s power grid faces a challenging summer, NERC warns. “A large swath of the North American bulk power system faces either a high or elevated potential this summer for insufficient operating reserves under normal operating conditions. The 2022 summer assessment said that the Midcontinent ISO faces a capacity shortfall in its North and Central areas, resulting in what NERC called a 'high risk of energy emergencies during peak summer conditions.'”

On the 15-state grid operated by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), consumers in 11 states are at risk of outages. MISO, which serves about 42 million people, projected it has "insufficient" power generation to meet the highest demand periods this summer, especially in its Midwest states. The grid has never before given a warning of this kind ahead of the start of summer demand.

California says it needs more power to keep the lights on. State energy officials have a sober forecast for the state's electrical grid, saying it lacks sufficient capacity to keep the lights on this summer and beyond if heatwaves, wildfires, or other extreme events take their toll. The update from leaders from three state agencies and the office of Gov. Gavin Newsom comes in response to a string of challenges with the ambitious transition away from fossil fuels, including rolling blackouts during the 2020 summer heat wave.

With the chorus of voices sounding the alarm on summer power supply, the importance of emergency backup systems rises to the top of consideration by business and government leaders. Power and generator dealers, as well as distributors, are working with customers to deploy the right systems and maintain 100% readiness should these systems be needed to sustain business operations and maintain critical life systems in the event of a grid outage

Diesel is the technology of choice for ensuring reliable emergency backup power, thanks to its load carrying capacity, rapid response time (10 seconds), and reliability. Beyond commercial and residential installations diesel powered and natural gas fueled generators are increasingly being incorporated into self-sustaining microgrids powering entire neighborhoods, removing their dependency on central power-plant generation. 

In microgrid systems, prime power comes from renewable solar and wind energy, batteries store the energy and release it during times of high demand. The generators backstop the whole system to ensure reliable power when renewables are intermittent, and storage has been depleted. Diesel generators, used alone or as part of microgrid applications, are increasingly being fueled with renewable biobased diesel fuels that reduce carbon emissions by 50-86% and other emissions as well, thereby contributing toward sustainability, lowering greenhouse gas emissions while also ensuring a reliable and continuous supply of electrical power when it is needed. That’s a hot bargain anytime.



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Key Contact

Allen Schaeffer
Executive Director
aschaeffer@dieselforum.org
301-668-7230

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