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Linking Solar Photovoltaics with Building Disaster-Resistant Communities

Panel: Panel 10. Building Industry Trends

Mary Tucker, City of San José
Lian Loo, City of San José


Disaster preparedness is a key issue for large urban areas, especially in areas that experience not only natural disasters such as floods, high winds and earthquakes, but also power outages on the local, regional and multi-state areas.

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems are a natural and wise solution for disaster preparedness because of their sustainable, stand-alone operation capabilities. The question is not whether solar photovoltaics can be used as a part of disaster and security operations, but an identification of the applications and conditions for which solar energy is the preferred alternative. Within the City of San José, we have undertaken a project to explore, identify and test priority applications of renewable energy systems for disaster relief and for building disaster-resistant communities. The City is particularly interested in identifying “dual-use” applications, such as the use of solar electricity on school facilities that are also used as shelters during disaster situations.

Our approach to spurring widespread application of PV for disaster relief is to get PV equipment in the hands of emergency response teams, enable the use of the equipment for training and during emergencies, and evaluate the effectiveness of the technology in meeting their needs. In addition, we will be working with our area schools to identify collaborative projects that could install solar PV on those schools that also double as community shelters during a disaster.

The project has the assistance of an Advisory Committee comprised of city and area emergency managers, fire, police and buildings departments, along with regional and national representatives from the energy and disaster preparedness agencies.


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