Natural disasters are one of the very few modern-day occurrences that have the power to put a whole nation to a complete halt. For instance, whether it strikes a sophisticated nation like Japan or a less developed one like Nepal or Haiti, a large magnitude earthquake can produce the kind of destruction that may not be possible for a country to repair all by itself.
Many people have been left without reliable sources of water, electricity, and basic services due to the severity of recent natural catastrophes. These services include communication systems, healthcare services, and water supply. Disruptions to water supply and sewage drainage could pose a major hazard to public sanitation, hygiene, and health, potentially endangering lives.
Having a reliable, efficient, and clean power source on hand is crucial for emergency relief agencies in the event of a national grid failure – and solar solutions are quickly replacing traditional energy sources in times of crisis due to the problems associated with non-renewable sources.
To begin, there is the sustainability problem. When the electricity grid goes down due to a natural disaster, people tend to rely on generators powered by diesel or gasoline. The use of these generators is extremely risky because of how inefficient and unsustainable they are when handled by unskilled individuals.
Having a finite quantity of nonrenewable fuel sources also poses a threat of social unrest. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina caused this situation in several southern states. Because of the staggering level of demand, prices can quickly spiral out of control, setting off a never-ending cycle of rising costs and shrinking supplies.
For these and other reasons, portable solar generators are quickly becoming the go-to backup power source in disasters and other emergencies.
Why Are Portable Solar Generators Important in Disaster Relief Efforts?
1) Little to no Maintenance
During emergencies, fuel for conventional generators needs to be refilled. This necessitates many journeys to the gas station to buy additional gasoline during ongoing blackouts, in addition to actively replenishing gas tanks and carrying out routine maintenance inspections. (And during prolonged crises when refill distribution is challenging, fuel can run out).
Portable solar generators collect and store battery from sunlight and, thus, do not require any fuel refills. As long as the sun shines, your portable solar power system will continue to collect and store energy for future use.
The cost of using a conventional generator tends to pile up very quickly when making sure you have enough fuel to get through a natural disaster. Although battery-powered solar generators may have a higher upfront cost, they can produce free electricity for the entirety of their useful lives.
Investing in portable solar power can significantly cut the long-term expenditures related to emergency preparedness since solar panels can be expected to survive for 25 years or more and because there are tax rebates and other incentives that can further bring the cost down.
3) Silent and Clean Power
The majority of city dwellers are all too familiar with the unpleasant noise of gas or fuel generators powering nearby homes and businesses when the electricity goes out. A portable solar generator eliminates most of these noises associated with conventional generators, producing energy in a very silent manner.
While gas generators produce stinky, potentially hazardous gases throughout the electricity generating process, solar energy is fully emission-free. This not only helps reduce global warming – which, by the way, can lower the frequency of natural disasters – but also protects the local population’s health. Anything we can do to lessen the effects of fossil fuel emissions is ultimately beneficial for all people.
4) Greater Independence
Above all, portable solar generators offer a degree of energy independence that is unmatched by gas or diesel generators. A portable solar power system has all it needs to produce and distribute electricity once it is installed; no additional expenses, upkeep, or considerations are required.
Even better, the majority of contemporary solar energy systems come with monitoring and functionality provided by apps, allowing system owners to fully regulate the production, distribution, and storage of energy through their smartphones. Gas generators are, undoubtedly, strong and capable appliances, but in the 2020s, personal electrical micro-grids are simply a better option for disaster relief and resilience due to smart controls and infinite access to solar power.
Solar Power for Disaster Relief – Puerto Rico Case Study
Ever since Hurricane Maria disrupted the grid, Puerto Rico has been enduring ongoing power outages. Solar energy displays resilience in the face of this most recent disaster, community activists, charities, and environmentalists are pushing for a solar revolution across the island.
Every month, close to 3,000 solar projects are being installed in Puerto Rico. Groups like Solar Responders are installing solar panels at fire stations across the island so that firefighters and other first responders can keep working even if the power system goes down. Thanks to the group’s assistance, almost 20% of all fire stations in Puerto Rico now run on renewable energy sources.
Enhancing Disaster Relief Efforts With Portable Solar Generators
Decentralized energy systems like portable solar generators can allow governments to mitigate the impact of natural disasters which, in turn, would help people by reducing the need for costly, ongoing recovery and rehabilitation efforts. This is particularly true for people residing in slums or other informal settlements.
The importance of portable solar generators in disaster relief efforts lies in their portability, sustainability, efficiency, and affordability.