Solar Today March 2013 : Page 29

Emergency Shelter program offers a model for disaster recovery. loads are overhead lights and electrical receptacles for powering items such as radios, phone chargers and life support equipment. As of February, 98 school shelters had opera-tional systems, with anoth-er 10 to be funded by local utilities and installed by the end of 2013. Installing 98 systems in less than two years was an aggressive goal, and one that created a need for effective col-laboration among FSEC, the system installer, FEMA and school district personnel (including the principal, facil-ity manager, IT manager and science teachers). Some of the key challenges FSEC faced included orienting a 10-kW system to the school property’s layout, integrating separate critical loads with existing building wiring and navigating each school district’s compliance issues. The SunSmart program is FSEC’s latest application of solar for disaster relief. It first began researching options after Hurricane Andrew devastated Dade County in 1992. In response to Andrew, FSEC partnered with San-dia National Laboratories to install PV systems at medical clinics in Dade County. It worked with the Florida Depart-ment of Transportation and Dade County to develop trail-er-mounted PV-powered traffic signals, as more than 1,000 signals were being repaired in Miami. In 1995, the National Renewable Energy Labo-ratory joined the effort to promote solar energy for disaster relief by funding FSEC’s report, “Photovol-taic Applications for Disas-ter Relief,” to educate the public, government and industry on options. M ICHAEL NAGLE / GREEN P EACE BRUCE COTLER / GREEN P EACE The solar panels of Green-peace’s Rolling Sunlight truck power a donation collection/distribution center in New York’s Rocka-ways. The truck was used to help locals, who were without power and heat, to charge phones and other devices. power cell phones and other devices. The Louis Berger Group and SolaRover partnered to donate a mobile solar generator to support a Greenpeace gym, clinic and soup kitchen in Rockaway Park, N.Y. Midtown Community School, in Bayonne, N.J., sheltered 75 residents. A 232-kW array with two Sunny Central 125U commercial solar inverters and battery backup supplemented the school’s diesel generator during the utility power outage. Other organizations provided portable systems to power small loads such as phones, lights and TVs. Solar installers from the region found little damage from wind as thousands of arrays were still attached to homes and businesses. Flooding was more often the cause of system failure, as inverters and other balance of system compo-nents were damaged. As Hurricane Sandy demonstrates, renewable energy has a vital role to play in disaster recovery. Just as impor-tant is its role in emergency preparedness. Disaster-resis-tant buildings with renewable energy offer perhaps our best hope in a world experiencing ever-increasing climate extremes, whether hurricanes, droughts or wildfires. ST About the Author Bill Young’s fi r st ex p e r ience with n a tu ra l d is a ste r s c am e when, a s a chil d in Flo r i da , he w a tche d fr o m sli d ing d oo r s a t his fam ily ho m e a s Hu rr ic a ne Donn a ’s win d s blew a w a y par t o f the p o r ch . A f te r the sto rm , his fam ily s p ent 1 0 da ys without utility p owe r. Young’s fa the r , a n elect r ic a l enginee r a t Kenne-d y S pa ce Cente r a n d a n ama teu r rad io o p e ra to r , use d a n inve r te r connecte d to a c ar to p owe r the r e fr ige ra to r , a light a n d a HA M rad io . The Youngs we r e the only p eo p le in the neighbo r hoo d with elect r icity, a s long a s Bill’s dad coul d fin d g a soline to kee p the c ar r unning . This event w a s the beginning o f Young’s li f elong fa scin a tion with elect r ic p owe r a n d rad io co mm unic a tions . As a n enginee r ing stu d ent a t the Unive r sity o f Cent ra l Flo r -i da , Young m et a pr o f esso r who wo r ke d with the then-newly est a blishe d Flo r i da Sol ar Ene r gy Cente r (FSEC) . Following g rad -u a tion a n d seve ra l ye ar s d esigning sol ar syste m s f o r Gene ra l Elect r ic, Young joine d FSEC, whe r e his ma n a ge r w a s inte r este d in his r ese ar ch on the app lic a tion o f sol ar ene r gy f o r d is a ste r r es p onse . F r o m this st ar t, Young par tici pa te d in FSEC’s par t-ne r shi p s with the U . S . De par t m ent o f Ene r gy, S a n d i a N a tion a l L a bo ra to r ies a n d the N a tion a l Renew a ble Ene r gy L a bo ra to r y to collect da t a , con d uct ex p e r i m ents, d evelo p equi pm ent a n d con d uct wo r ksho p s on the app lic a tion o f sol ar ene r gy f o r d is a ste r r elie f. Young (fl_byoung@hot ma il . co m ) r eti r e d fr o m his p osition a s SunS mar t pr og ram technology enginee r a t FSEC in J a nu ar y . SOLAR TODAY March 2013 29 Learning from Sandy Greenpeace deployed Rolling Sunlight as part of its relief efforts after Hur-ricane Sandy. Solar energy did assist in the recovery efforts follow-ing Hurricane Sandy, especially for those with solar water-heating and off-grid PV systems. Solar enthusiasts came to the rescue with off-grid solar assistance. Greenpeace provided its Rolling Sunlight PV truck to power a New York City donation center and help locals Copyright © 2013 by the American Solar Energy Society Inc. All rights reserved. NICK WATERS, FSEC

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