Diesel Generators Begin Taking Emission Cuts

By Amlan Panda April 10, 2024

In the fight for cleaner air, the Indian government's aggressive stance against diesel generator emissions marks a turning point to curb air pollution

Diesel Generators Begin Taking Emission Cuts

As per the World Air Quality Report 2023 released by IQAir, India is the third most polluted country in the world, with an average annual PM 2.5 concentration of 54.4 µg/m3. 

Diesel Generators: A Hidden Culprit

Amidst a complex web of pollution sources, large diesel generators play a sizeable role in contributing to the smog (7 to 18 percent to be exact), as per the National Clean Air Programme 2019. To make matters worse, as these generators age, they tend to generate up to 11 times more pollutants than new generators. 

Until now, diesel generators had been largely unregulated after they were installed and commissioned, with only those over 800 kW getting any oversight. Essentially, even though every generator sold was lab-tested for emissions, the total emissions from all the working generators across India weren’t monitored. It was a gap that’d been flying under the government’s radar for too long. 

Indian Government's Clean Air Strategy

To solve this problem, the Government of India, through its 2019 National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), laid out a strict action plan for all industries and commercial facilities: retrofit all installed diesel generator (DG) sets with a Dual Fuel Kit (enabling the old DG to run on partial gas), or an emission control device (RECDs) to reduce particulate emissions. It didn't stop there—new diesel gensets now had to meet stricter emission standards right off the assembly line too. 

From Delhi to Goa: DG Regulations to the Rescue

In 2020, this NCAP action plan was implemented by some state pollution control boards like Haryana Pollution Control Board (HPCB) and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB). However, the initial response was muted as the natural gas infrastructure was still in development and the Type Approval process for RECDs had not yet been codified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). 

The real game changer came in early 2022, when the reach of natural gas pipelines increased exponentially and the CPCB green-lit the Type Approval process for RECDs. Quickly, the Pollution Control Boards of Goa, Kerala, Gujarat, and Maharashtra issued the same directives for the industries and commercial facilities in their states. In Delhi, NCR, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) issued a slew of directions completely banning the use of DG Sets, unless they installed Dual Fuel Kits or RECDs. 

Increasing Enforcement and Fines

To ensure compliance, the CAQM created a robust Enforcement Task Force (ETF), which included 40 flying squads, with the goal of tracking down violators and taking strict actions against them. 

 In 2022-23 itself, the ETF conducted more than 10,000 surprise inspections and field-level incognito checks at multiple industrial and commercial units across NCR, issuing closure notices to hundreds of facilities for violating air pollution norms. 

In February 2024, they intensified their efforts by releasing a fresh directive titled “Standard Schedule for Environmental Compensation (EC) Charges in Closure Directions” which imposed hefty penalties on non-compliant DG Sets, with fines going up to Rs. 25,000 per DG for every single day of violation. 

The Pollution Control Boards of Tamil Nadu, Goa, and Kerala were initially lagging in enforcing their Directives due to a lack of natural gas access and certified RECDs in the market. However, in 2024, with the expansion of gas infrastructure across facilities and more OEMs offering certified RECDs, enforcement has seen an uptick in these states as well. For states like Maharashtra and Karnataka, where the deadline to comply has already passed, we can expect the State Pollution Control Boards to follow the CAQM’s lead in stringent enforcement of these rules soon. 

Additionally, with innovative solutions like LPG-compatible dual fuel kits (which don’t require physical gas pipeline infrastructure), it’s now become easier for facilities to comply with the new regulations. 

The Hidden Opportunity for Cost Savings

From a business’ perspective, the adoption of Dual Fuel Kits and RECDs has been slower than we need for two main reasons – the hesitance to invest upfront in assets and a lack of awareness about the ROI possible on these new technologies, especially Dual Fuel Kits. 

However, there’s good news on that front – the costs of both Dual Fuel Kits and RECDs have reduced since 2020 as adoption increases and OEMs are able to reduce their input costs. As for the ROI possible, Dual-fuel kits are emerging as the preferred choice, as they offer businesses the best of both worlds: leveraging existing assets and reducing their operating cost while cutting future emissions. By allowing old generators to run on a cheaper mix of natural gas/LPG and diesel, businesses can cut their DG-operating costs by almost 30 percent. An additional benefit of Dual Fuel Kits over RECDs is their ability to not only lower particulate matter (PM) emissions but also cut down on other greenhouse gas (GHG like NOx, SOx, and CO) emissions. 

Thus, facilities looking to reduce their GHG emissions can justify the conversion of their DG sets to run on dual fuel as a GHG emissions abatement project while also getting a positive ROI on investment. 


In the fight for cleaner air, the Indian government's aggressive stance against diesel generator emissions marks a turning point. With increasing enforcement of these new regulations to curb air pollution, industries have a clear path to greener operations. And it's now a necessary move – towards a cleaner planet and a healthier bottom line. 

(Amlan Panda is the CTO of Energeia.)