The Role of Solar Energy in Disaster

Solar energy provides numerous benefits. Its potential to help in emergencies can’t be overlooked. Natural disasters can make the grid inaccessible, but they can’t diminish sunlight.

Solar’s reliability makes it a popular choice for hospitals, emergency shelters, and other disaster-prone areas. Governments and communities believe it will help with resilience and preparedness. Battery systems provide ongoing power, even at night and in cloudy conditions.

Read on to learn more about solar solutions and their potential to help in disaster situations.

The Growing Threat of Natural Disasters

Natural disasters are a growing threat in the United States and throughout the world. In the past five years, the U.S. has experienced an average of 18 natural disasters, each causing about a billion dollars. The catastrophes in 2022 resulted in 474 fatalities.

The occurrence of natural disasters is on the rise. There were 244 events between 2003 and 2022, rising from 96 events in the previous 20-year period. Experts predict an ongoing trend.

Several factors contribute to the increase in natural disasters, but climate change is one of the most prevalent. Rising temperatures lead to the risk of wildfires and intense storms. They also increase water levels which contributes to flooding.

Traditional measures that aid with disaster relief require energy that further contributes to climate change- and they are often unavailable when a catastrophe occurs. Solar energy is a reliable environmental solution.

What are the Various Ways Solar Can Help in Emergencies?

  • Emergency Shelters:

Following a disaster, communities often set up a shelter. If the community grid is out, solar panels can provide power to shelters to ensure people have access to creature comforts.

  • Emergency Response Teams:

Emergency response teams often set up makeshift areas to care for injured people. Solar provides power to medical devices that enable them to save lives.

  • Water Treatment:

A disaster can reduce a community’s access to clean drinking water. In other instances, the lack of water may be the source of the emergency. Solar can power water treatment systems to ensure people have the clean water they require.

  • Communication:

Communication is essential during emergencies. Solar can be used to power cell phones, radios, computers, and other devices so people can call for help if they need it.

·  Refrigeration:

Solar can power refrigeration units to keep food, vaccines, and medications at a safe temperature.

·  Recovery Efforts:

Solar energy can power pumps, lights, and tools that can be used to repair damage and help a community recover.

What are the Benefits of Solar in Emergencies?

  • Reliability: Solar is a reliable source that is available even if the grid goes down.

  • Portability: Portable solar panels, generators, and batteries can be used to transport devices to emergency sites.

  • Clean Energy: Solar power will never produce toxic chemicals that harm the environment.

  • Resilient: Solar panels are resistant enough to withstand natural disasters. They will hold up in heavy rain, snow, and harsh winds. They resist wear and tear and maintain power when electrical systems fail. Monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient than thinner panels and have better performance in low-light conditions.

Smart Grids and Solar Power

The electrical grid is an engineering marvel. The network of transmission lines, substations, and transformers that deliver electricity to your home or business at the flick of a switch is seemingly miraculous.

But today’s modern society is pushing it to capacity. It is overtaxed by the overwhelming technology and computerized equipment.

Engineers are now proposing a smart electric grid. The grid would use automation to respond to varying electricity demands. It would also provide the following benefits:

  • More efficient energy transmission

  • Quicker restoration of power after disturbances

  • Reduced utility costs

  • Reduced peak demand

  • Increased integration of customer-power generation systems including renewable energy systems

  • ·  Improved security

A smart grid is especially effective when emergencies occur. It can detect outages and contain them before they reach more areas. It can also route power to emergency services when an outage occurs.

The grid can also utilize various energy sources including solar, wind, and hydrogen. Semiconductor materials support the green energy-smart grid integration. They hold millions of tiny transistors that allow the grid to link to devices to ensure energy production meets demand.

Countries that wish to adapt to renewable energy must modernize their grids to handle the varying sources. For example, Thailand, a country that hopes to reach a goal of one-third of clean energy production by 2037, must configure a grid that anticipates supply, demand, and possible outages. It must also accommodate the growing demand for electric vehicles.

New York is hosting a Future Grid Challenge that will improve data analytics, grid stability, and forecasting. It aims to facilitate the state’s energy distribution. It will help the state reach its 2040 carbon-free goals and 2050 85% reduction in greenhouse gas production.

Solar Powered Microgrids

Solar-powered microgrids support the green movement while aiding in disaster situations. These systems capture and store energy from the sun and distribute it throughout communities.

The solar panels and technology are stored in a secure room. Electrical wiring is used to distribute the energy to local homes and businesses. People who access the grid pay a flat usage fee or a metered bill based on their usage.

A solar microgrid can be used anywhere, but it is typically a solution in remote communities that cannot connect to the existing infrastructure. It is often used in mountainous regions, small rural neighborhoods, and islands. It will work best in areas that get a lot of sunlight.

The systems vary in size. A small system provides about 1.5kw in power, enough to power 25 homes and five businesses. Bigger systems can power hundreds of homes and businesses. The systems can be expanded as communities grow. 

Solar microgrids have proven their success in disaster situations. They provided reliable decentralized power in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maya. They served as a valuable alternative to the territory’s damaged grid.

They also offer solar-powered water desalination in drought-prone regions. They provide energy to plants that convert seawater or brackish water into clean drinking water. They are invaluable in areas with severe water shortages.

Portability is Key

Solar is convenient during emergencies because it is portable. There are various means of portable solar, including the following:

Solar Batteries

Solar power is available during emergencies, even at night and during storms, thanks to solar batteries. Solar batteries store excess energy solar panels release during the day and provide power as needed. They reduce reliability on the electric grid.

The batteries come in various sizes and capacities. Smaller batteries can power a few lights and appliances. Larger batteries can power entire homes.

Solar-powered batteries are also portable so they can be transported to various locations.

Portable Panels

Portable panels can be transported to locations as needed, including pop-up shelters and other areas without power.

Portable panels are not generally as powerful as full solar systems. However, some can generate more energy than others.

The panels use deep-cycle batteries to power electrical appliances. The batteries are plugged into the panel and store the sun-produced energy. They can then fuel electronics and devices.

Portable solar panels provide limited efficiency. However, powerful rollable panels are in development. These panels unfurl like a carpet making them easy to transport as needed.

The panels are designed to fit into 4x4’ trailers that can carry solar to a mobile clinic that fits 120 beds or provides enough power to purify 7000 gallons of seaweed daily. The lack of rigidity means they can be transported easily. They deliver ten times the power of traditional systems.

Solar Generators

Solar generators are another portable option. Unlike traditional generators that run on diesel or gasoline, they use the sun’s energy. They come in various sizes and can power anything from small camping areas to entire homes.

A generator works similarly to solar batteries. It connects to panels that absorb light from the sun. The energy is then stored in the generator battery to provide power as needed.

Electrical generators may also be used in disasters, but solar generators offer several benefits that make them a preferable option.

  • Low Maintenance: Solar generators do not require fuel. Fuel is often scarce in emergencies. The sun will always be there for you.

  • Cost-Effective: Solar generators are not cheap, but you will save money on fuel to offset costs. Tax credits and incentives also help lower the price. They also last 25 years or more making them sound investments.

  • Silent: Traditional generators are noisy and can disturb communities in times of emergencies. Solar generators are clean and quiet.

How to Promote Solar Integration into Disaster Relief

Solar integration can provide relief when disasters happen, but steps must be taken to ensure smooth integration. The following recommendations will facilitate the transition.

  • Incentives and Grants: Incentives and grants assist with funding. They are especially helpful in low-income areas that are prone to natural disasters. They can also be used to pay for training and advanced technologies.

  • Collaboration: Government and non-government agencies and the private sector must collaborate to leverage resources, combine expertise, and build an infrastructure that supports widespread solar adoption. They must work together to raise public awareness and acceptance by promoting solar benefits.

  • Technological Advancements: Technological advancements can improve solar panel efficiency, produce affordable storage solutions, and make portable solar a feasible reality.

Solar America is Bringing Solar Adoption to the Forefront

Solar helps the country achieve its clean energy goals. It can cut back energy expenses. It can even be helpful in natural disasters.

Despite raised awareness of solar benefits, many people are slow to adapt due to cost restraints. Solar America offers a competitive system that makes solar more affordable. Simply enter your information into our website form. We will provide you with options so you can find the solar contractors that offer the best value.

Contact us for a free quote today.

"I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that." - Thomas Edison

"I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that." - Thomas Edison