Reliability of emergency and standby diesel generators: Impact on energy resiliency solutions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus Citations


Emergency diesel generators are the most common form of backup power for critical loads when the grid fails and are most often deployed as stand-alone generators (<2000 kW) tied to individual buildings for hospitals, emergency services, military bases, ports, airports, industries, and commercial facilities. Understanding the finite reliability of emergency diesel generators during continuous operation is crucial for energy planners, managers, and end-users. A new analysis of two large non-public emergency diesel generator operational data sets shows that commonly used reliability metrics are inadequate to predict the performance during a grid outage. Additional metrics addressing the likelihood of an emergency diesel generator to be available at the time an outage starts, successfully start and carry load, and constantly run for the duration of the outage are needed to predict the continuous run-time reliability of emergency diesel generators during a grid outage. This is the first analysis of the reliability of modern generators that follow standard maintenance protocols commonly used for backup power and these new metrics are shown to be dependent on the level of emergency diesel generator maintenance with values that can vary by more than an order of magnitude. Even using the new metrics for well-maintained emergency diesel generators, the analysis shows that the single emergency diesel generators configurations are only 80% likely to provide power for the duration of a two-week grid outage.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number114918
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Energy
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-75142


  • Emergency diesel generators
  • Energy resilience
  • Generator reliability
  • Reliability
  • Standby diesel generators


Dive into the research topics of 'Reliability of emergency and standby diesel generators: Impact on energy resiliency solutions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this