IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Solar trucks provide electricity in Sandy’s wake

Greenpeace workers with the Rolling Sunlight solar-power biodiesel vehicle near a donation distribution station and medical clinic in Rockaway Beach, devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Rolling Sunlight is helping power the neighborhood with solar panels.Bruce Cotter / Greenpeace

In the Sandy-ravaged Rockaway Beach neighborhood of New York, a 10-year-old truck outfitted with 256-square feet of solar panels is a working example of how cities can prepare for superstorms of the future.

The truck, Rolling Sunlight, is one of several mobile solar generators deployed in the region as part of the Solar Sandy coalition of solar companies and nonprofits that have banded together to provide residents and relief workers with electricity.

“We are really cranking right now. We are doing a great job in getting hot food, hot water, (and providing) a communication hub – and we are doing it with solar,” Robert Gardner, a campaigner with the environmental group Greenpeace, told NBC News.

Rolling Sunlight was built by Greenpeace more than a decade ago to power rallies and educate people on the potential of solar power. 

The truck’s presence in Rockaway Beach, however, is “not just a demonstration,” Gardner said. “This is really the solution that we are deploying. There is no future in large centralized generation units, or power plants.”

His group envisions vulnerable communities such as Rockaway Beach gaining resilience to the stormier future predicted from climate change with distributed electricity networks where solar panels are deployed on everyone’s rooftops and battery banks in their basements.

During sunny days, solar panels can collect enough energy to charge up their battery banks, which provide electricity at night and cloudy days. Rolling Sunlight, for example, has 50 kilowatts hours of battery storage.

Whether cities will adopt such distributed electricity networks remains to be seen, but they are a viable option to consider along with other efforts to smarten up the electricity grid

 – via Fast Co. Exist 

John Roach is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. To learn more about him, check out his website. For more of our Future of Technology series, watch the featured video below.