Portable solar power lends a hand in Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath

Communities in New York and New Jersey have been struggling to rebuild since the ravages of Hurricane Sandy several weeks ago. Despite the progress made, many households remain without power or access to the basic amenities they need. Of the charitable efforts undertaken to alleviate their hardships, two initiatives have stood out for their inventiveness and high demand: the Rolling Sunlight and SolaRover vehicles.

These converted trucks are equipped with photovoltaic solar panels, meaning that they absorb sunlight and the resulting heat creates an electrical charge, which is then transmitted directly into the local power grid. This roving technology has allowed businesses in affected areas to partially reopen, or at least rebuild easier.

Of the two, SolaRover has an added feature to help keep relief operations going: a biodiesel generator that automatically powers up if the panels start to run out of juice. That way, rebuilding efforts aren't stymied in case nature decides to take another swing at the Eastern Seaboard. Additionally, the vehicle can be prepared for deployment in as little as 15 minutes.

Greenpeace, who wrote a report on the two mobile electricity providers, also stated on their blog that several towns had been given solar generators to supplement the roving assistance vehicles.

"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," the environmental advocacy group said. "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."

Vehicles like SolaRover and Rolling Sunlight are tools that disaster responders can use that are both effective and energy-efficient. While we here at Life Is Green wish those affected most by Hurricane Sandy a speedy recovery, we're happy to see that green solutions are being chosen to solve these problems.

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