President Obama sees renewable energy as a means to preserve our planet. During his inauguration speech on January 21, 2013, he spoke about intensifying storms like Hurricane Sandy, climate change and the devastation that happens if we ignore it. He stressed the need to transition to sustainable energy to mitigate climate change and create jobs.
The total damage from Hurricane Sandy is unknown, but the ‘Frankenstorm’ that hit on October 29, 2012 left the entire east coast in shock and ruin. Many homes and buildings were destroyed, some torn apart by the wind, others by flooding or fire. People were trapped and stranded without supplies for a long time.
People were also without power. Hurricane Sandy exposed our vulnerable and outdated energy supply system. The heavy storm flooded and blew away much of the electrical infrastructure, leaving communities without electricity or transportation fuels. Winter was getting stronger and still people were without power or heat. Power companies have responded to this emergency by sending out utility crews to rebuild, restoring everything to the way it was before as quickly as possible.
Building It Back Stronger
Building back the electrical infrastructure presents an opportunity to update the technology and build it stronger. Perhaps this rebuilding phase is the opportune time to integrate sustainable energy into the system on all levels: industrial, commercial and residential. Updating the electrical infrastructure and adding new renewable energy technologies is a great way to increase the security and reliability of the grid, protecting against future storms’ potential destruction and possible grid failure.
And by renewables, I mostly mean solar technologies. Of the renewable and sustainable technologies, solar is safest. Wind turbines may not have survived the hurricane-force winds.
They are typically shut down in high wind conditions to protect the generator and alternator from overheating from the blades spinning too quickly. But sometimes that is not enough to keep the blades from spinning out of control and causing fires. Solar is safer.
Solar Technology Solutions
As long as the sun is shining, solar panels are generating power. They are reliable, even during grid failure (as long as there is sunshine). They can be mounted directly to the roof of your house or building so in a storm, it is less likely to blow away. There is also the potential for Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) which incorporate solar power technology directly into your building materials.
In the midst of disaster and destruction left in Hurricane Sandy’s wake, there is a great opportunity. While we’re working in the area, we might as well spend the extra money to make lasting improvements. During reconstruction and repair work, we can improve the quality of our electrical infrastructure by updating our power lines, transformers and overall distribution system. Furthermore, we can respond to President Obama’s call to continue the transition to sustainable energy by integrating renewables into the system. This would both increase the reliability and security of the grid and help us on our journey toward a greener future. Solar development would also help restore those struggling towns and cities by stimulating positive economic growth and creating jobs. Even after a devastating storm like Hurricane Sandy, we can recover. We can build back stronger.