Imagine this scenario for a moment: It’s a nice day out. The sun is shining beautifully and you’re at the beach. You can feel the sand between your toes, the gentle breeze carrying the scent of salt to your nose as it passes through your hair. The water is gently flirting with the shore in happy, foaming waves that bring pieces of wood, rocks, and the occasional fish before retrieving back into her embrace. It’s cool, a sensual contrast to the warm sand, as it washes over your feet.
Somewhere, there’s a gentle rhythm matching the waves tapping on the bongo drums accompanied by a soft bass line with vibrations that your heart’s beat slowly starts to match. A deep baritone of a local musician croons about his love of the sea.
Take this idyllic scene inside your head and rip it apart with strong winds, harsh floods, and the screams of those trapped in the floodwaters or their attics with no food or water. See the utter devastation that only a storm such as Dorian or Maria can bring. The only sounds are of roaring wind and quivering voices praying to God that they will survive. Or maybe screams of agony or fear as someone prepares to face their own death.
This is what hurricanes do, and they aren’t going to go away simply because we hope they will. Hurricanes aren’t the only natural disasters out there, either. In California, engineers created buildings that can withstand earthquakes. When it comes to islands and communities that often fall victim to natural disasters, we need to consider energy storage.
Some say, “Just move away,” in complete ignorance of a way of life and the many family connections, friendships, and responsibilities people may have. Many residents of islands such as the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Jamaica, and Bermuda, just to name a few, grew up there — it’s their home. Moving is a great short-term solution for some, but a long-term solution is needed for these types of events.
Energy Storage Is Key
What is energy? It’s what we use — whether it’s electricity we use to see in the dark or gas to cook on the stove. When it comes to preparing for disasters such as hurricanes, many people buy generators. But what if we had something better? What if we had something that would not fall apart in the event of a hurricane or an earthquake and that doesn’t cost so much money?
What if there was no need for generators because we had something that could withstand the might of these storms?
Last week, the Director of California Energy, Michael Colvin, wrote an article for the Environmental Defense Fund that shows that extreme weather is indeed fueling the energy storage boom.
“Energy storage installations for homes and businesses — involving battery technology — are on the rise in areas where extreme weather threatens the electric power grid, such as flood-prone Houston, wildfire-stricken California and hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico,” he writes.
Many island communities rely on gas and diesel for their power. In fact, when Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas, it caused an oil spill. Officials weren’t sure of just how much oil was spilled, but fortunately, they believe that none entered the ocean.
BP BREAKING | STATOIL facility in East End Grand Bahama an environmental disaster unfolding following Hurricane Dorian passage. pic.twitter.com/g0cDZ51ULj
— Bahamas Press (@Bahamaspress) September 6, 2019
One Twitter user, Kim, replied with something that many officials should consider:
“Am I the only one who thinks that in order to have these types of facilities in a hurricane-prone area, they should have to withstand a Cat 5 hurricane just [in case]? The same goes for nuclear energy.”
Am I the only one who thinks that in order to have these types of facilities in a hurricane prone area, they should have to withstand a Cat 5 hurricane just encase? The same goes for nuclear energy.
— Kim (@Kimmer4444) September 6, 2019
This created a short conversation in which another Twitter user pointed out that Hurricane Dorian literally sat on top of the Bahamas for 36 hours.
Oh, I agree. I just wish we had a global initiative to prevent environmental disasters like oil spills, nuclear energy meltdowns, etc. They can affect the world at large and someone should be monitoring them. My heart goes out to these Bahamians. We need to send aid and support.
— Kim (@Kimmer4444) September 6, 2019
A global initiative to prevent environmental disasters such as oil spills and nuclear energy meltdowns that are the results of natural disasters needs to be considered by tech companies when creating technologies that help prevent additional disasters in these types of events. The people of the Bahamas and other places around the world that have experienced large natural disasters can benefit from energy storage technology that is built in a way that can withstand these types of disasters.
What I am saying is that we should not just create technology that helps after a disaster hits — but also tech that is smart enough to prevent unnecessary disasters.
Energy storage is just one way this can be done. Power outages that go on for days, weeks even, can lead to misery and even death. It also leads to loss of income and financial hardship.
“Because of climate change, the frequency of these extreme weather events and outages will climb,” writes Director Colvin.
Tesla’s, Sonnen’s, and Sunrun’s help with Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria is just an example of a great and humane reaction to these storms. But imagine if energy conservation wasn’t an issue that we had to address along with destroyed homes, shortage of food and water. This is where disaster preparedness comes in.
In his article, Director Colvin points out that South Carolina, which used to lag in clean energy investments, recently passed legislation supporting solar and energy projects. “As more states help expand the market, it is important to start thinking of energy storage as a key strategy to make buildings cleaner and more grid resilient. The technology will only become more important to prevent outages during extreme weather events,” he writes.
I agree. We need to see energy storage as a key strategy.