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How Renewable Energy Can Assist With Disaster Recovery

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Jane Marsh's picture
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Jane Marsh is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co. She covers topics related to climate policy, sustainability, renewable energy and more.

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Texas experienced a devastating storm earlier this year. Extreme winter weather left areas without power during a record-breaking freeze. Texas's lack of backup power left many other states questioning the validity of their disaster relief plans.

Inadequate recovery power sources can significantly affect the health system. During Hurricane Katrina, the South had no electricity and severe flooding. Residents experienced serious medical emergencies without access to hospitals or certified professionals. We can eliminate future disaster distress by adopting renewable energy sources.

Renewable Relief

In the case of Hurricane Katrina, storm surges and power outages contributed to 1,833 documented deaths. To prevent this in the future, we can utilize solar and wind power as backup energy during natural disasters.

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We can reduce the number of storm-caused deaths by installing clean power sources in medical facilities. Adequate access to power can also provide residents with the resources necessary to keep them safe. Professionals can utilize clean energy to fuel electric medical vehicles in the event of reduced access to gasoline.

Energy Access

Disaster-prone communities can access renewable energy through a clean power grid. Miniature solar grids can provide residents with electricity to keep them safe and provide relief workers with the resources to get the job done. The average damage sustained from local disasters determines the size of grid you should install.

Many regions fail to install renewable energy grids because of misconceptions. Some people believe solar panels cannot generate electricity when it is raining. However, they can produce energy through any weather event, even when the sun is undetectable by the human eye.

The panels are waterproof and well-mounted on rooftops or ground stands. Panel racking systems are durable and long-lasting, proving a secure system through most extreme weather patterns. Their ability to provide consistent power throughout natural disasters makes them ideal devices for global relief.

In 2019, relief agencies announced their plan to install mini solar grids in impoverished regions of Africa and Asia. They plan to place over 3,000 grids by the end of next year. This project could provide adequate medical care and resource-containing shelters to less fortunate regions and disaster-ridden communities.

Renewable Energy-Powered Sump Pumps

Residents may also install renewable energy devices to power sump pumps during power outages. Connecting the clean electricity systems with a corrosion-resistant cast iron pump can immediately remove water from basements and areas below sea level. Home flooding can cause serious health hazards, so it is essential to eliminate stormwater immediately.

When homeowners encounter basement flooding, the water may come in contact with electrical outlets. Energized water can shock or electrocute people, causing severe harm and sometimes death. Stagnant floodwater may also generate mold, bacteria and other harmful pathogens, putting residents' health at risk.

Installing solar panels, wind turbines or other renewable energy devices can ensure safety during flooding events. You can keep your sump pump connected to the clean energy source, allowing it to switch on when it detects water. Homeowners can also hook up their pump to a solar electric generator.

These devices take up minimal space and operate without reliance on the grid. They are durable and eco-friendly, providing clean localized power to residents. Installing electric generators can reduce flooding and health hazards.

Electric Emergency Vehicles

Nissan recently developed an electric ambulance. The vehicle contains two batteries, providing 33 kilowatt-hours of power. It also generates minimal noise, allowing professionals to communicate with patients and operate sensitive equipment effectively.

Natural disaster-prone regions can adopt electric emergency vehicles to access medical transportation in blackouts. We could charge these emergency automobiles with renewable energy to increase our access to hospitals and medical support.

Stay Ahead of the Game

If your hometown experiences frequent natural disasters, you can talk to your local government officials about adopting renewable energy relief systems. Installing green technology can protect community members and their properties. These power sources may also shrink your town's carbon footprint, reducing air pollution and ecosystem degradation.

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Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on May 17, 2021

Battery powered sump pumps are cost effective, reliable and easily deployed. Added cost of solar as well as access to sunlight are a problem. Emergency generators powered by gas, diesel or natural gas are more a reliable and common method for supplying power to major medical facilities. 
The driver for emergency power should be cost. To the extent solar energy can provide cost effective help, great. However, greenhouse emissions should not be a consideration in an emergency.

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on May 18, 2021

"Disaster-prone communities can access renewable energy through a clean power grid."

This reminded me of a disaster of a different kind in which renewables seem to be key to survival and recovery:

"Cut off from the power grid and with fuel costs soaring, Syrians in a poor, embattled enclave have turned en masse to solar panels to charge their phones and light their homes and tents.

When the Syrian government attacked their village, Radwan al-Shimali’s family hastily threw clothes, blankets and mattresses into their truck ..."

"Among the belongings they kept was one prized technology: the solar panel now propped up on rocks next to the tattered tent they call home in an olive grove near the village of Haranabush in northwestern Syria."

"“It is important,” Mr. al-Shimali said of the 270-watt panel, his family’s sole source of electricity. “When there is sun during the day, we can have light at night.”"

"An unlikely solar revolution of sorts has taken off in an embattled, rebel-controlled pocket of northwestern Syria, where large numbers of people whose lives have been upended by the country’s 10-year-old civil war have embraced the sun’s energy simply because it is the cheapest source of electricity around."

"Solar panels, big and small, old and new, are seemingly everywhere in Idlib Province along Syria’s border with Turkey, rigged up in twos and threes on the roofs and balconies of apartment buildings, perched atop refugee tents and mounted near farms and factories on huge platforms that rotate to follow the sun across the sky."

"“There is no alternative,” said Akram Abbas, a solar panel importer in the town of al-Dana. “Solar energy is a blessing from God.”"

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Matt Chester on May 18, 2021

That's a striking image and a heartwrenching story. Thanks for sharing, Mark. 

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