In the past, natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, tornados, and earthquakes, were one of our major concern. Now, terrorist events are becoming more common and more destructive. Whether, natural or man made, a disaster can happen at any time, often with little or no advance warning. A disaster can leave many people without adequate medical services, potable water, electrical service and communications for long periods of time. They can be as destructive as Hurricane Mitch leaving several hundred-thousand people homeless or as minor as an afternoon thunderstorm knocking down local power lines to your home. Not only can lives be destroyed, but business, the environment and communities.
In response to disaster, renewable energy sources are an environmentally benign, inexhaustible source of thermal or electrical energy. As an example, photovoltaic (solar electric) modules generate quiet, safe, pollution-free electrical power. Solar powered equipment require no fuel and are less expensive to operate than gas or diesel generators. Photovoltaics play an important roll in the relief efforts after a disaster. There are many applications that PV properly satisfies the need for electrical power. The longer the period the power is out, the greater the benefit PV is as a sustainable energy source.
This report discusses the needs for electrical power and the priority for those needs during disasters and terrorist attacks. Resources for assistance and PV-powered equipment are presented. Emergency response organizations and the general public will benefit from the information and examples provided in this report.
Florida Solar Energy Center and Young, William, "Disasters And Energy Security Management" (2003). FSEC Energy Research Center®. 553.