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How Solar Power Is Impacting Natural Disaster Relief


In the seven months since Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, efforts to restore the island to normalcy have been frustratingly slow. As many as 62,000 residents—or about five percent of the population—are still without power, a condition that is not only an annoyance to those living in the darkness, but also a potential danger. Lives depend upon having medical equipment running, food storage systems need to be in place to avoid spoilage, and rescue teams need lighting, to name a few key power needs. And while food and water can be shipped in, power must be repaired, which can taken days, weeks or—in the case of Puerto Rico—even months.

While the process of fixing Puerto Rico's grid is an unusually challenging one, most natural disasters knock out power for some period of time. And while rapid recovery of the grid is ideal, there's another fast and temporary solution to this problem: solar power. Like bottles of water and MREs, solar systems can be shipped into an affected area, set up on the spot, and provide large amounts power in mere hours. It can save lives with the added bonus of providing an environmentally friendly and safe alternative to gas generators and battery-powered lights.