U.S. Department of Energy

    Solar Panels and Biodiesel Aid in Hurricane Recovery Efforts

    September 28, 2005

    Solar power systems provide a big benefit after natural disasters, such as hurricanes: They provide a source of power when the power grid is down, and they don't require any fuel. With that in mind, DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Florida Solar Energy Center are providing solar electric charging stations to the town of Kiln, Mississippi, to help residents recover from Hurricane Katrina. The two organizations are providing two large 2-kilowatt charging stations that could recharge base radio stations or run a refrigerator. In addition, a smaller 600-watt system will allow people to recharge mobile phones, laptop computers, and hand-held radios. See the NREL press release.

    According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a solar lighting company called SOL Inc. has also donated 30 solar-powered lights to the Louisiana State Police. And Carmanah Technologies, Inc., a Canadian company, has received orders for more than 500 of its solar-powered LED lights. Carmanah says most of the orders were for solar-powered marine navigation lights for the U.S. Coast Guard, but solar lights were also used to mark railroad bridges and helicopter landing pads. Carmanah held back other shipments in order to rush the orders to the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. See the SEIA Web site and the Carmanah press release.

    Biodiesel also played a role in recovery operations, as the Veggie Van Organization, a nonprofit advocacy group, partnered with West Central, a farmer-owned biodiesel company, and the Naples City Council in Florida to transport 13,000 gallons of biodiesel to help victims. The relief effort focused on smaller coastal towns south of New Orleans that were among the areas most severely affected by Hurricane Katrina. The donated fuel powered a former military ship owned by Sub Sea Research, as well as makeshift medical facilities and emergency generators aboard the vessel. The ship and an accompanying shrimp boat left Florida in mid-September and delivered about 15 tons of food, water, ice, and relief supplies to Louisiana. The volunteers then had to leave to avoid Hurricane Rita. See the National Biodiesel Board press release (PDF 21 KB) and the updates on the Veggie Van Web site. Download Adobe Reader.