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Resiliency - The Redundant Argument for Renewables

09.27.18

In Oklahoma, generators sell like hotcakes (especially after a good ice storm).  The amazing thing is that home- and business-owners typically purchase a generator only for use in an emergency.  They might sit unused for several years between outages (props to the utilities for their dependability).  It's peace of mind that one purchases a generator for, and a contingency plan for a disaster. 

I believe in planning for the worst case.  In fact, generators can be life-saving in some instances.  All I'm saying is there is a better way.  By comparison, a solar array with battery backup is an equally effective option for an emergency, with the added bonus of being usable day-to-day.  These systems pay for themselves, and provide resiliency in a disaster. 

This was highlighted by CBS News in a recent article about Hurricane Florence (full story here).  Due to historic rains, and massive floodings over 1 million Carolinians lost power during and after the storm. Coal and even nuclear power plants were taken offline, but Duke Energy's solar assets could have been up and producing the very next day. "The lesson, according to environmentalists: Utilities' vulnerability to major storms underscores the urgency of shifting to energy that it is not only clean and renewable, but also more resilient." It should be noted that many of the power outages were caused by transmission lines and substations being taken out, which happens regardless of the fuel type. Because the transmission was down, these utility-scale solar farms were not able to be utilized. Utilities are at a general disadvantage because their generation is so centralized and they depend so heavily on transmission infrastructure.

Concerning resiliency, distributed solar generation is the unrivaled champion. When distributed on rooftops throughout a city or town, solar with battery backup can be the most resilient power source we have. If prices continue to come down, and awareness continues to rise, I believe rooftop solar systems with battery storage will gain popularity for Carolinians and Oklahomans alike, looking for power after a storm.

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