In June 2022, an article released by NASA detailed how increased intensity of hurricanes due to climate change will lead to more intense rainfall. As the intensity of extreme weather events increase, there will be more property damage and power outages across the country. One proposed solution to alleviate these effects of extreme weather events is to implement solar microgrids to diversify energy sources.
Hurricanes strengthen due to four main factors: warm ocean water, increased moisture in the air, low vertical wind shear, and pre-existing disturbances. As a result of anthropogenic climate change, air temperatures continue to rise. Therefore, hurricanes hold more water vapor which leads to more intense rainfall and increased wind intensity during storms. In July 2022, the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) released a summary statement of key findings that stated tropical cyclone rainfall rates are projected to increase 10-15%, tropical cyclone intensities globally are projected to increase 1-10%, and the global proportion of tropical cyclones that reach Category 4 and 5 levels is projected to increase.
In April 2022, the US Department of Energy reported that power outages from severe weather events have doubled over the past two decades across the United States. In 2020, U.S. customers experienced an average of eight hours of total power outages. To protect against power outages caused by extreme weather events, it will be necessary to diversify energy sources.
According to Michelle Davis and Steve Clemmer’s research paper How Climate Change Puts Our Electricity at Risk – and What We Can Do “replacing power from conventional plants with renewable energy can make the electricity system more resilient while also helping to curb further climate change by reducing heat-trapping emissions.” This is because renewable energy is often smaller-scale and more distributed and renewable energy reduces fuel supply risks.
One proposed resilient renewable energy system has been solar microgrids with battery storage. Solar Microgrids are small scale grid systems that can be used to power communities and businesses. Bahama’s Prime Minister Hubert Minnis discussed with CBS how implementing solar microgrids will help the islands become more resilient to hurricanes. The development of storm-proof solar microgrids began after Hurricane Irma in 2017. The panels are implemented low to the ground and can withstand 180 mph winds.
As the intensity of extreme weather events increases, the need for resilient energy systems will simultaneously increase. Implementing renewable energy systems such as solar microgrids are one way in which we can adapt to the negative effects of climate change.