Perhaps the greatest thing we take for granted is available power. When we flip a switch in our home or business we don’t think twice about power being available. If the light fails to go on, there must be a problem with the power grid rather than there is no power available.
This is also true when it comes to the difference between first world and third world countries. Ask a recent immigrant from most African countries why they don’t have air conditioning systems in the average home, and they will tell you there isn’t enough power available to run the unit. The cost is not a factor; it is simply a lack of power.
Solar energy has been touted as one of the most environmentally friendly and renewable sources of energy on the planet. We see solar farms where acres upon acres of hard solar panels are interwoven and connected to the power grid of small and medium size cities. The energy is virtually pollution free and available throughout the year as solar storage batteries are used to store the overage for future use.
A company in England, Renovagen, has developed solar panels that can be rolled up, placed in a truck, and then rolled out to provide electrical power wherever it is needed. Each solar panel has been tested to generate an average of 11 kilowatts, and each connected to batteries that can store as many as 24 kilowatts per hour. The panels have a maximum useful life of up to 10 years.
The current thinking for the practical application of what Renovagen calls its Rapid Roll system is to deploy the systems to areas that have been impacted by natural disasters, such as the territory of Puerto Rico last year. Hurricane Maria’s devastation was so great that the island was completely without power for days after Maria left. The system could have given power to government offices, relief centers, and essential water systems hours after arriving on the island.
Disaster relief is definitely an application of the roll up panels. Looking at the Rapid Roll system from a different perspective, it basically amounts to portable power far beyond what portable power systems are capable of today. Existing systems depend on some type of fuel other than solar to keep homes and businesses running for any meaningful length of time. Solar panels used in homes and businesses are rigid and require an installation process before being used. Rapid Roll just pulls in with its truck and lays out the panels on the designated area.
Because they are solar powered and portable, they can be used virtually anywhere in the world that requires a clean power supply. Traditional solar panels have to be set up in a fixed array on a designated area of land. The ability of the Renovagen panels to be quickly set up and picked back up when the need for them has expired offers military applications and in remote areas where power grids have yet to be established.
One of the key barriers in making the technology practical on a global scale is available land area. The panels still require a significant amount of land to be placed on, so in medium and large cities there simply may not be the necessary space for the system to be effective when needed. Ironically, the lack of available space is directly connected to the lack of available power in many countries where the Rapid Roll technology makes sense.
The technology appears to have a bright future in rural or low density population areas where land could be designated for portable power use. These are also the areas where the power grid can be unstable for reasons from natural disasters to failed maintenance. Rapid Roll is a perfect solution in these locales. One question that has to be asked is the cost of the power to its users.
Currently, Renovagen appears to have altruistic motives for using its technology. But its simplicity and practicality for many areas of the world scream for distributing the technology on a business for profit basis. Panel trucks could be made available on site for a price, much like salt piles are used to prepare for potential winter storms. They can be rolled out when needed, and a fixed price for rent can be charged.
Other than the land area requirements, the solution to providing electrical power to almost anywhere in the world seems to have taken a giant step forward. It reduces the number of power lines required, and a single 4 x 4 truck can store enough panels to generate enough power to run a 120 bed medical clinic. As of now, there have been no major problems reported from using the system, meaning that it is safe for public consumption.
The concept has taken about 5 years to become a part of the real world, but it clearly can be the answer for making power available anywhere. If the technology can be reduced in size with similar electrical efficiency production, it can power individual homes and eliminate the need for nuclear power plants and carbon based electrical power plants.
What’s not to like about this new technology?