Damaged solar array
(Photo credit: Lorie Shaull / Flickr)

When hurricanes strike the Caribbean, entire islands are sometimes left without power.

That’s because there’s usually just one power plant and one electricity grid per island. So if that one grid goes down, the entire island can go dark for days, weeks, or even months.

Kaitlyn Bunker is with the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute. She’s co-author of a study that shows that one way to minimize this risk is to add renewables that are connected to microgrids. These systems can operate independently from the larger grid.

For example, Bunker points to how some microgrids fared in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria.

“We identified some examples in places like the British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands,” she says, “where those installations came through the storms themselves OK and were able to be providing power – at least locally – to the nearby buildings and infrastructure that needed power more quickly than the remainder of the grid, which took a bit longer to be able to restore and reconnect.”

Bunker says adding solar, for example, would not only help islands recover after hurricanes. It would also create new job opportunities.

So renewable and decentralized energy can both provide jobs and strengthen the resiliency of the Caribbean.

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Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Topics: Energy