Solar Technology is First Choice to Supply Disaster Relief

Disaster relief happens in stages, starting with the immediate needs of medical attention, food supplies, and adequate shelter for people who have lost their homes and livelihood. After the countries that ring the Indian Ocean were devastated by a tsunami in December international relief agencies began the first stage disaster relief.

It didn’t take long after that for individual companies to begin donating relief funds and supplies, and a few renewable energy technologies have found a place amidst the emergency efforts. Ray Holland of Intermediate Technology Consultants (ITC) in the United Kingdom said that in many cases when a local power grid has been destroyed, solar power is one of the more useful renewable energy technologies for establishing communications, lighting and power for radios, among other needs. BP Solar helped to fill some of the immediate energy needs by donating 100 lanterns with solar modules, which are manufactured at the Tata Industries/BP Solar manufacturing facility in Sri Lanka. The Tatadeep Solar Lantern MK3 Model weighs about 3 kgs (approximately 8 pounds), has a 10 W solar module, and can hold 3 to 4 hours of continuous light on single charge. Lanterns are only a part of BP’s corporate relief efforts. The BP foundation has donated USD $1 million to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, $1 million to Oxfam and $1 million to UNICEF. An Employee Disaster Relief Fund was established so BP employees around the globe to make contributions to assist the people affected by the tsunami. For every dollar given by an employee, BP will match those funds on a one to one basis. BP Shipping is examining ways that they can provide shipping help into the region and have offered to provide expert chartering advice for aid agencies. Small water purification plants can also be useful, Holland said. Purification has more value than a distiller in an emergency situation. AirWater Corporation is providing five machines that pull humidity from the air and purify it to potable water for a large-scale feeding and medical facility located in south Sri Lanka. AirWater machines can be connected to solar PV arrays and operated without the need for a grid connected power supply. In addition to the water produced for drinking and eating purposes, the machines can also provide high quality distilled water for the staff operating a Mobile Medical Clinic. Information about donating is on the company’s Web site, which is listed below the article. The other power option, particularly for Sri Lanka and the countries surrounding the Indian Ocean, is established hydropower plants across the country. “Distributed energy systems have the advantage of being locally independent in the event of the loss of a long transmission line,” Holland said. “That would be the case with some small hydro plants in Sri Lanka that feed into the grid, but I doubt that they would have been affected by the Tsunami.” Efforts to help people recover from the tsunami will most likely continue for years, and a little bit of renewable energy is helping to fill in the power gaps until more can be done. Editor’s Note: Has your renewable energy-related company done something significant to help out the tsunami relief? Feel free to comment in our news forum below or let us know directly at through the fourth link below.
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