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Header image: Life press release

New EU-funded study confirms: portable batteries overcome overlooked emissions and health harms of combustion generators

Governments are currently looking for ways to ramp up policies and drive more investments toward climate neutrality. However, a significant source of emissions is still largely overlooked. Fuel-driven combustion generators cause significant air pollution and drive climate change and economic costs. Data from a new EU-funded study involving fast-growing cleantech startup instagrid and 12 European construction companies proves that portable batteries help minimize emissions.  For almost 2 billion people in the world, work is mobile. These professionals, working in industries like construction, events and emergency response, need access to off-grid electricity. Fuel-driven combustion generators are the main source of power for workwhen no grid-electricityis available. Small combustion engines are widely used across the world: in 2020 alone, 50 million were produced globally. 

These small engines are highly problematic: they produce considerable local and global emissions, cause serious health hazards, and drive economic costs. For example, one hour of a single portable gasoline generator reportedly emits as much smog-forming pollution as driving an average passenger vehicle for about 250 km (California Air Resources Board).Still, combustion generators are barely regulated in the EU or elsewhere, and data on their impact is limited. But some jurisdictions are taking action: California recently banned the sale of gasoline-powered generators starting in 2028.  

Worker using instagrid for welding railway
Portable batteries provide silent off-grid electricity with zero local emissions

The fast-growing clean technology startup instagrid has created the world’s most advanced power station for professional use. instagrid partnered with 12 construction companies from seven EU countries to investigate whether portable battery systems could be amore sustainable alternative to combustion generators. Close to 100 instagrid ONE max portable battery systems replaced combustion generators at construction sites as part of a three-year project co-financed by the EU’s Life Program.  

Newly published results from the study indicate that portable batteries significantly outperform conventional fuel-driven combustion generators in environmental sustainability, work efficiency and occupational health and safety.

Key insights of the study, backed by data, include: 
  • Portable batteries set local emissions to zero. Combustion generators harm the health of both users and bystanders by emitting significant levels of exhaust emissions like nitric oxide (NOx), fine particulate number (PN), carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbon (HC).  

  • Portable batteries eliminate noise pollution. Decibel values reported by manufacturers of combustion generators range between 80 and 100 dB, which is significantly above the EU high noise level threshold of 50-55 db. 

  • Portable batteries lower CO2 emissions across the life cycle: The lifecycle CO2 emissions of an instagrid ONE max battery are only 13 % of the lifecycle CO2 emissions of a gasoline generator and only 8 % of a diesel generator. The portable battery reduced the total greenhouse gas emissions by 97 %.  

  • Portable batteries enable significant cost savings: The biggest economic costs associated with combustion generators relate to fuel costs. A total cost of ownership comparison over 10 years already shows cost advantages of more than 25% today in favor of batteries. Over the next decade, fuel prices are expected to increase strongly while battery costs are expected to decrease significantly.

A growing market demand for clean portable power 

As leading companies across sectors are setting up net-zero strategies, there’s a clear market demand for more sustainable solutions to polluting combustion generators. To respond to growing customer demand, instagrid has recently unveiled another new game-changing product concept for a large-scale mobile battery to power entire construction sites, festivals, events, and other temporary sites. With approximately 15000 instagrid battery systems currently in use across Europe, the journey to reaching zero emissions with clean portable power is only beginning. Read the white paper here.