Monday, March 02, 2020

Bahamas v. Puerto Rico on renewable energy as resilient response to disasters

Renewable energy, especially in distributed microgrids, has a lot of advantages over fossil fuels that need large plants and a vulnerable power distribution lines. This is especially true in island countries that get hit with devastating weather and pay exorbitant prices for diesel power imports.

Puerto Rico seemed at least in the first year after Maria to take only token steps towards use of renewable power. The Bahamas, hit six months ago, seems to be doing better:

Exactly six months ago this evening, Hurricane Dorian slammed into the northern Bahamas. It was the fifth Category 5 Atlantic hurricane in just the last three years. Before that, there hadn't been a single "Cat-5" storm in nearly a decade.

There's a growing consensus among scientists that climate change is what's making hurricanes stronger and more destructive....But the Bahamas has found a ray of hope - specifically, a solar array - that can help its islands survive future hurricanes. And in the process, it may have important lessons the rest of the world should learn, as Mother Nature continues to brew devastating storms like Dorian.

To be fair to Puerto Rico, it's been several years since Maria, giving more time for renewable power and especially battery power to get cheaper, and microgrids to become more familiar to governments (and it's unclear from the report how much better Bahamas will actually do).

Hopefully this improved response will continue and put some silver linings on disaster response, as well as making climate adaptation assist with climate mitigation. See Rocky Mountain Institute's Island Energy Program for more info.


Canman said...

I think you'll find this post more relevant than anything from the Rocky Mountain Institute:

Microgrids are an expensive way to provide energy. They're best used by wealthy groups or companies to provide energy security in areas with unreliable grids. Advantages over fossil fuels? -- They're mostly diesel generators! In the US, they're natural gas powered, sparked diesel generators! See this comment:

We have an epidemic of "economy of scale" denial!

Reality said...

Where is this growing consensus? I didn’t find it in the IPCC SREX, or in AR5. An extract here,

"Current data sets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century and it remains uncertain whether any reported long-term increases in tropical cyclone frequency are robust, after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities"

As for the future, an example is:
HURRICANES AND CLIMATE-The U.S. CLIVAR Working Group on Hurricanes, Kevin Walsh et al, 2015:

"At present, there is no climate theory that can predict the formation rate of tropical cyclones from the mean climate state."

David B. Benson said...

The presumed trend is in the intensity of the hurricanes which do form due to increased sea surface temperatures.

Brian said...

Also, storm surge impacts from sea level rise. In some places there would've been no storm surge impacts absent climate change, and in many other places that have storm surge impacts, those impacts have been made worse.

Reality said...

David Bensen, check out the graph I linked to, it’s fig 2.34 in AR5. 100 years of data on the US and E. Australia. Where is the increase in intensity?

Brian said...

Canman - yes, microgrids aren't cheap, and that's not why they're useful.

Also, islands have scaled down grids and as they get smaller they lose advantages of scale, making renewable powered microgrids an especially-good fit.

David B. Benson said...

A measure showing increased hurricane intensity: