Rolling Sunlight And SolaRover Aid In Sandy’s Wake

New Jersey is a big solar power state, second only to California in the U.S., and the word is the extensive installations in the state held up well through Hurricane Sandy. Meanwhile, solar has been coming to the rescue in small but important ways in a New York community recovering from storm-related damage.

Soon after Sandy roared through the Mid-Atlantic states, leaving a colossal mess in its wake, the environmental group Greenpeace dispatched Rolling Sunlight, a truck outfited with 256 square feet of photovoltaic panels and batteries, to the Rockaway Beach area of New York. The truck set up shop next to a small store, providing it power, while also giving local residents a place to charge laptops, cellphones and other devices.

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Rolling Sunlight (image via Greenpeace USA)

The truck, by the way, runs on biodiesel.

Later, Rockaway got even more substantial help, when SolaRover rolled in. This is a mobile solar generator designed specifically for disaster relief.

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SolaRover (image via Greenpeace USA)

“It has a 4 kilowatt solar array with 100 kilowatt hours of backup,” Greenpeace reports on its website. “Also a biodiesel capable generator kicks on automatically if the batteries run too low. Though the power demands from the relief effort here in Rockaway Beach are intense, we haven’t had any problems.”

Clearly, solar power has been a key part of the Sandy relief effort in the area. As our Beth Buczynski reported, Voltaic employees also managed to set up a bunch of solar kits and donated them in Staten Island and Rockaway.

“Over two weeks of work we’ve worked with Occupy Sandy to set up food, clothing and resource distribution sites, medical clinics, communications hubs – all with solar power,” Greenpeace says. “Thousands of people have used the solar cells to call loved ones from newly charged phones or just used the flood lights to stand and talk to neighbors.”

The success of solar has Greenpeace aiming to help the area rebuild with solar power a key part of the infrastructure.

“Though it’s going to take a lot of work I feel confident we will repower Rockaway Beach withclean, renewable electricity,” the Greenpeace blogger writers. “I feel confident in the organizing power represented by this narrow strip of land that so many people seem to have forgotten.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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