Solar Microgrids That Survive Hurricanes?

60 Minutes did a report on how the Bahamas are upgrading their electrical grid to better handle the increasingly violent and increasingly frequent hurricanes hitting their low-lying islands, and I encourage you to watch their video if you can.  If you can’t watch it, you can at least read the transcript at the link above.

It’s incredibly exciting to see progress being made in the search for hurricane-proof solar PV microgrids, and I really hope they succeed.   The solar panels are much closer to the ground in this new type of installation and will supposedly withstand 180 mile-an-hour winds; I think it would be ground-breaking if this microgrid actually does withstand what are expected to being increasingly frequent category 5 hurricanes.   This type of installation will become more in-demand in more places as our world continues to warm.

I do have one quibble about this otherwise well-done presentation and it’s this – Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis  mentions that he said at the U.N.  ‘First World nations make the greatest contribution to climate change, (t)hey are the ones responsible for the changes that we see. The increase in velocity and ferocity of the hurricanes and the different– and the changes, typhoons that we see today, but we’re the innocent victim. We’re the ones that are being impacted by what you have created.”  Minnis seems to want the U.S. and European countries to contribute to an insurance fund to help rebuild from future storms.  My quibble is this – the electricity generated on these islands is so expensive now that installing solar PV arrays/microgrids even with battery backup will surely cost what they’re already paying now, or, more likely, even cost less.   I could see asking for loans to help with the initial installation of solar, which could be paid back with money paid by electricity customers on their monthly bills.    And I could see asking for some financial help to rebuild after climate-change-influenced storms, but solar is such a good financial move that it would be a freebie /handout to ask for the U. S. and Europe to pay for that.

2 thoughts on “Solar Microgrids That Survive Hurricanes?

  1. In speaking with a variety of Bahamian authorities, as well as members of the RMI team developing this project, there are existing IMF, IDB and other international lending institution conditions that sort of lock them into the current energy infrastructure arrangements. There have been parliamentiary attempts at reform, including updating the tax code to promote sustainable development, but it seems the petroleum industry has a strong toehold. Labor and shipping to the islands is expensive, and there are requirements for local labor and/or business participation.

    That said, there is a lot of support behind these ideas and the population as well as investors inside and outside the country are starting to embrace these options, if for no other reason than to ensure more affordable and reliable electricity, particularly after storm events. We have to remember too, that microgrids are also having a tough time getting started in the US, even in places with strong policy that supports their development. It will take continued natural disasters to really awaken the desire to bolster our defenses and put additional resources into these projects.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comments! I’m new to wordpress, so I just figured out how to reply. I wonder if it would be any different for other green energy sources like wind or wave power?

      Like

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