Removable solar panels boost storm readiness in Dominica

(Reuters News, 13 Dec 2019) As the Caribbean island aims to become fully "climate resilient", a volunteer effort is keeping health centres operating - with clean energy.

When Hurricane Maria flattened the Caribbean island of Dominica in 2017, the fierce storm left the country in the dark.

"Everything was out. There was no electricity. The whole electrical grid was down," recalled Williams Fitzroy, an engineer and inspector for the Ministry of Public Works.

The blackout caused huge problems, especially at surviving health centres, which were left battling without lights or power for equipment to treat victims of the Category 5 storm, the island's most powerful in nearly two centuries.

"Nurses had to be working with flashlights and lanterns in the evenings," Fitzroy said of the hurricane, which killed more than 50 people and ruined 90% of the island's buildings.

But two years on, health centres on the tiny mountainous island of 72,000 people are better prepared for the next storm, as climate change fuels more powerful hurricanes across the Caribbean.

With help from the French group Electriciens sans Frontieres (ESF - Electricians Without Borders), six of the island's health centres have now been fitted with solar panels and battery storage systems that allow them to run off-grid.

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Reuters News, 13 Dec 2019: Removable solar panels boost storm readiness in Dominica