By Pari Kasotia
Addressing climate change requires a two-pronged approach. One approach is implementing preventative policies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, intended to reduce carbon emissions. Other examples of preventative policies include carbon tax or a cap and trade system. A second approach is designing communities that are able to withstand climate change impacts.
To effectively address the risks of climate change, adoption and application of technological breakthroughs that build smart and resilient communities is essential. The clean energy revolution holds significant promise in terms of mitigating climate change impact. The actual transition, however, is a long-term process with many moving parts and one that requires careful planning and consideration. How, then, can countries safeguard and plan against climate related events that continue to threaten livelihoods, economies and health of individuals? Solar combined with storage offers one viable solution.
The 2016 Climate Change Vulnerability Index below points out to countries that are at extreme risks from climate change. African nations such as Chad, Niger, and Central African Republic and parts of Asia such as Bangladesh are particularly vulnerable. Fortunately, these countries possess strong solar PV potential, as measured by the level of solar irradiation, which when combined with storage can significantly increase resiliency of these countries to handle climate change impacts.
While storage is primarily seen as a strategy to integrate variable renewable energy into the grid, solar combined with storage can serve as a resiliency mechanism to prepare communities to handle extreme weather events caused by climate change, and risks to the grid system which are becoming increasingly more pronounced.
A series of projects are already underway in the United States intended to demonstrate the efficacy of utilizing solar plus storage as a resiliency measure. San Francisco’s Solar + Storage for Resiliency program, through funding from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, aims to serve as a national model for integrating solar and storage into the city’s emergency response plans. Similarly, in 2015, Oregon undertook an energy storage demonstration project in collaboration with Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) to create an island system comprised of batteries and solar PV to provide clean, resilient power to three critical facilities. These projects, when completed, will provide a wealth of best practices for other communities to emulate.
High-risk developing countries that are just beginning to plan their mitigation and resiliency strategies are at an inflection point to create a framework to incorporate solar plus storage. This is particularly valuable for communities with massive urban centers, island locations, and regions with weak grid access. Below are some recommendations communities should implement.
Image credit: Pixabay
Graphic: Verisk Maplecroft
Paritosh (Pari) Kasotia is the Deputy Director of The Solar Foundation (TSF) based in Washington DC dedicated to advancing solar energy use worldwide. Prior to her role at TSF, Pari founded and led Unfolding Energy and also led the State of Iowa’s Energy Office by managing multi-million dollar projects to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy. You can follow her on twitter and LinkedIn.
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