A stationary diesel engine on a dairy farm. Photo: nwnyteam
Victory for Air Quality
Just in the US, there are at least 900,000 stationary diesel engines generating electricity, mostly for agricultural and industrial purposes. Taken together, they produce quite a bit of nasty emissions, especially those that run almost 24/7 (others are used only sporadically or in case of emergency). but they're about to get cleaner: The EPA is announcing new regulation for existing stationary diesel engines that will "reduce emissions of formaldehyde, benzene, acrolein and other toxic air pollutants.""EPA estimates that the rule will reduce annual air toxics emissions by 1,000 tons, particle pollution by 2,800 tons, carbon monoxide emissions by 14,000 tons, and organic compound emissions by 27,000 tons when fully implemented in 2013." (source)
Stationary engines running on gasoline, natural gas and landfill gas are set to also get new regulation by August 10, 2010.
It would be a great idea if new stationary diesel engines were designed to be both as clean as possible and run on both fossil-diesel and biodiesel (some of the emission control equipment on "clean" diesel cars has trouble with biodiesel, which is really a shame).
Another good idea (but more capital-intensive) would be for farmers who use diesel generators as a main source of power to install a small wind turbine or some solar panels and to only use the generator as backup. Depending on fuel prices and how much wind turbines and solar panels drop in price in the next few years, this might become more attractive financially. For example, you pay for solar panels once, but after that they keep producing electricity for a few decades at almost no cost.