Emergency Reserve is a passive generator program which generates +5 PWR if you have 3 PWR or less at the start of your turn. It has a cooldown of 3 turns. Emergency Reserve can be bought from some Server Terminals for 300 credits.
Emergency Reserve never triggers on the first turn of a mission, even when playing with 0 starting PWR as a custom difficulty setting.
Emergency Reserve's name suggests that it is useful for emergencies when you are low on PWR — and it can be, but if you are only triggering it occasionally, then it would normally be better to have a different generator to avoid those emergencies in the first place.
Emergency Reserve is best when you can trigger it consistently, every 3 turns, or otherwise as frequently as possible. In this case, Emergency Reserve generates an average of +5/3 ≈ +1.67 PWR per turn, making it one of the more efficient generators. This is easier to achieve in low-PWR loadouts, but can also be achieved if you time your use of PWR well, including gaining PWR from other sources such as hijacking Consoles at the right times.
If you also have Cycle installed, then it will always reset your PWR to 3 before Emergency Reserve's effect, so that Emergency Reserve consistently generates +5 PWR every 3 turns, in addition to the PWR from Cycle. However, other passive generators such as Power Drip or Dynamo may trigger before Emergency Reserve, depending on the order they are installed in Incognita. If this happens, then you may fail to trigger Emergency Reserve when the other generator brings you above 3 PWR first. This is fixed in the Programs Extended mod, so that Emergency Reserve always triggers after Cycle but before other generators.