Solar-Powered Charging Systems Help Hurricane Recovery

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), working in partnership with the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), is providing solar electric charging stations to help residents of Kiln, Mississippi, recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The systems will provide much needed power to this town of about 2,000 people, located 13 miles north of Bay St. Louis and the Gulf of Mexico.

The charging stations, whose photovoltaic (PV) panels make electricity directly from sunlight, will provide power to help rescuers and residents of Kiln. One system can supply up to 2 kW of electricity, enough to charge base station radios or run a refrigerator. The solar panels and batteries for the system are mounted on a trailer and can be towed by a pickup truck. A smaller mobile unit that can power up to a 600-watt electrical load will provide enough power to charge mobile phones, laptop computers and hand-held radios. The Florida Solar Energy Center will provide a 2-kW PV system also on a portable trailer. “With just the light of the sun, people trying to rebuild from the terrible tragedy of Hurricane Katrina will be able to keep vital communications equipment up and running,” said NREL Director Dan Arvizu. “Fortunately, the Laboratory has forged a strong partnership with the Florida Solar Energy Center and is able to provide hardware for experienced FSEC personnel who are on the ground in Mississippi providing aid.” Midwest Research Institute (MRI), which with Battelle manages NREL for the Department of Energy, will pay all the transportation costs for all three solar panels, batteries and trailer to be sent to Mississippi. MRI and Battelle, on behalf of NREL, also donated $10,000 to the Salvation Army for Katrina relief. NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by Midwest Research Institute and Battelle.
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