Solar Power Helps Disaster Recovery and Economic Development
Beyond the need to curb excess carbon emissions, solar power technology provides a practical, easily transportable form of electricity production. Disaster relief efforts frequently work in locations that are difficult to access via cumbersome freight vehicles. First responders are sometimes forced to deliver supplies via cargo plane or helicopter, and portable solar generators and lamps are much lighter and easier to transport than diesel or petrol-based generators.
Let’s consider typical disaster relief energy needs and examples of solar technology progress that have been made worldwide.
Energy Needs During Disaster Relief
There are a number of different specific requirements that energy sources must meet in order to qualify as truly sustainable, in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. The ideal power sources should not only be mobile and free of excess noise and pollution; they should also provide ample fuel to replace what has been lost along with minimal risk of combustion or asphyxiation.
Enter the solar energy industry. Going solar is becoming easier all the time with improved financing options, increased renewable energy production, and the potential for larger tax returns with state rebates and federal tax credits. Ease of implementation is making solar power a logical choice for cities and countries dealing with the after-effects of natural disasters like floods and hurricanes.
Solar Saves the Day: Reopening Hospitals After Natural Disasters
Solar panels and portable electric generators have come into the spotlight as viable sources of energy in the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane. These PV-powered gensets are able to produce electricity without creating too much of a burden for first responders, as they are relatively light and movable without needing traditional fuel sources to be transported along with them.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) regularly deploys these portable energy units to federal disaster sites because of their practicality and ease of use. Moreover, hospitals around the world have begun investing in sustainable energy technology, installing solar panels to bolster their green footprint.
Progress is being made in the wake of natural disasters like Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. According to Vox, Elon Musk has the goal of “productizing a microgrid” in which solar power would form the basis of a more disaster-resilient infrastructure. One hospital, a children’s hospital called Hospital del Niño located in the capital city of San Juan, was resurrected in October because of Tesla’s solar panels and batteries.
The sustainability of health care and medical treatment has come full circle via renewable energy providers like Practice Greenhealth, a nonprofit organization that helps healthcare providers adopt renewable energy policies and practices. In addition to comparing costs between different potential sources of energy, Practice Greenhealth also factors in the potential treatment cost of continuing to rely on sources like coal—the source of health problems like asthma attacks and chronic bronchitis.
Solar hospitals are capable of not only taking care of their patients’ immediate healthcare needs, but also preventing additional symptoms that could eventually develop as a result of living nearby and dealing with the consequences of fossil fuel emissions.
Sustainable Energy in Developing Countries
According to recent data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), developing countries now account for more than half of new solar installations, worldwide. There has also been a boom in demand for solar power across the continent of Africa, and a number of international solar companies are rushing to establish business there.
Solar power is also playing a significant role in the disaster relief efforts of countries like Nepal, where recent earthquakes devastated the energy grid infrastructure. SunPower, a solar nonprofit organization, responded by providing water purification systems and solar lanterns to areas in need. This filled an enormous energy gap because solar-powered devices do not require the same type of elaborate infrastructure repair as traditional gas and electric power.
Ironically, long-standing political alliances and tax policies are making renewable energy investment more fraught in first world countries like England than in many third world and developing countries like Bangladesh. However, due to limited access to resources and infrastructure issues — such as Puerto Rico’s budget funding problems — solar energy panels are often cheaper and faster to install than traditional energy sources like natural gas and electrical grids.
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Renewable energy tax credits make it financially worthwhile to adopt PV and solar thermal technologies for your home or business. If you’re ready to go solar, Eco Energy can provide the analysis and saving or financing options you need to switch over to a more sustainable way of life.
Image Source: Pexels
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