Report Number




Disaster Planning; Disaster Relief; Photovoltaics; PV Systems


Disasters can be as destructive as Hurricane Katrina, leaving several hundred-thousand people homeless, or as minor as an afternoon thunderstorm that brings down local power lines to your home. After a disaster, utility services may be damaged or destroyed, leaving people without water, sanitation, communication and electricity. In response to a disaster, first responders are deployed with life supporting resources, such as water, food, and medical supplies. Energy resources are often lacking, making recovery efforts difficult in our high-tech world of cell phones, television, computers, refrigerators and many other electronic devices.

After a disaster, the long time tradition used to meet energy needs is to deploy conventional gasoline and diesel emergency generators. But in recent years, another energy source has become available and the demand for its use is increasing. Photovoltaic (solar electric) power systems that provide quiet, reliable, emission-free electricity have been used in response to a disaster since 1988. Portable photovoltaic (PV) battery chargers, lights, radios and other devices have been employed, including trailer mounted photovoltaic power systems. [1]

For example, PV power systems from 100 to 3,000 watts are mounted on trailers and used as mobile emergency generators. These mobile systems are deployed to disaster sites to power clinics, shelters, radio stations, homes and other buildings. These mobile solar generators are typically stand-alone PV systems connected to a load by a cable to an electrical power panel or to a device through extension cords. When the emergency is over, the system is disconnected and redeployed.

Date Published



Draft paper from American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2nd International Conference on Energy Sustainability – 2008, Jacksonville, Florida

Local Subjects

Disaster Planning; Disaster Relief; Photovoltaics; PV Systems


FSEC Energy Research Center® Collection



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