Earlier this week, I spent some time browsing a report about infrastructure investments and policies that 20 progressive cities around the United States are adopting to prepare proactively for the impact of climate change.
One of the items that really struck me as I was reading was the serious investment that Houston has made in mobile solar technology since it was hit by Hurricane Ike - 17 units in all. Similar short-term efforts to deploy mobile solar cropped up in New Jersey and New York after Superstorm Sandy ripped through the region and left people without power for days, if not weeks.
As you have read or know firsthand, the resulting surge in gasoline generators usage (coupled with damage to local refineries) caused a regional shortage at the pump - one that makes a really good case for more focus on microgrids, energy storage and mobile power options that fueled by renewable energy sources.
So, which companies specialize in this sort of technology? And what are the typical applications?
One example is developer Solamor, which uses technology from Outback Power and from SolarWorld to develop mobile power generation units for both big outdoor events (such as Maker Faire) and disaster recovery situations. Their equipment was also used by protesters at the height of the Occupy Movement.
Company's founders Tatianna Pavich and Peter Clark said what inspired their business was interest from event planners in power generation solutions that are
far cleaner than the alternative. You can debate whether or not any massive event really can be "green," but you have to give credit to festival planners and event management companies for trying to reduce their impact, and to Solamor for seeing this business opportunity.
In any case, Solamor has developed several different mobile generators using a range of renewable energy sources including wind, solar and biodiesel - such as a hybrid light tower than uses all three of these fuel types and outputs 12 kilowatts of power. Another unit, called WhisperWind (pictured below), adds two wind turbines.
Solamor rents the equipment for events, and the installations can be managed via a Web-based interface.
Although the electricity needs depend on the size and sort of event being covered and the equipment that needs to be operated, 17 to 20 generator grids are sufficient for those with audiences up to 15,000.
Mainly, the Oregon-based company is working near its home geography, but as the need for temporary power solutions grows, it is easy to see how it could expand relatively quickly into other regions.
"There aren't a lot of people doing what we're doing," Pavich said.