The solar microgrid trailer at Ray Day in Serenbe, to be used for disaster response. (Photo by Ben Rose.)

A traveling microgrid on a trailer debuted at Ray Day earlier this month, and looks to shift disaster response towards reliable renewables.

Microgrids are what they sound like — a miniature version of an electric grid. The electricity grid the vast majority of us use is a centralized one, and microgrids are an alternative that add resiliency during periods such as blackouts or peak energy demand.

The “solar microgrid trailer” will, “enable responders to provide portable, clean power at disaster sites in Georgia and the Southeast” according to a press release from the organizations.

The trailer features retractable solar panels on the roof of the vehicle, along with solar panels inside the trailer that can be deployed on the ground to maximize electricity produced. 

When disaster strikes, power lines are often taken out leaving residents without access to electricity. This is especially dangerous for those relying on medical machinery. Moreover, when extreme weather events occur as they have been in recent years, the grid may not be equipped to handle these events — with a shining example being the Texas grid freeze in 2021.

The partners involved said they were motivated to pursue this project because backup power during a disaster is still reliant on fossil fuels, and that it was time to change that. 

“Thanks to this partnership, responders in Georgia will be able to bring their own environmentally sustainable power source with them, providing vital emergency power without the environmental damage caused by traditional fossil fuels,” said Roland Fernandes, Global Ministries’ chief executive, in the release.

The solar microgrid trailer also serves as an educational tool that can travel to events like Ray Day — an annual event hosted by the foundation of the same name that has been a key player in sustainability in Georgia — to show what the future of sustainability looks like.

The North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church and United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) will use the trailer for disaster response. 

Atlanta-based United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) along with Ray C. Anderson Foundation, Footprint Project, Cherry Street Energy and North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church made the traveling microgrid possible.

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