Preprint / Version 3

The Disaster Resilience Value of Rooftop Solar in Residential Communities




Distributed energy resource, Resilience, Risk, Solar


Distributed energy resources can enhance community resilience to power outages in the aftermath of natural disasters. We develop a method to quantify the resilience value that rooftop solar can provide to residential neighborhoods. We group homes into geographical clusters and simulate the effect of a disaster that disables the electric grid and damages some of the homes. We then use historical energy consumption and solar irradiance data to estimate the likelihood that each cluster could meet its own energy needs given a defined level and pattern of rooftop solar adoption. As a case study, we apply the method to single family homes in San Carlos, California, subjected to an earthquake based on the 1906 San Francisco event. We characterize the impact on resilience of increasing adoption of rooftop solar and of grouping homes into resilience clusters for energy sharing. Policy intervention can ensure more geographically uniform adoption of solar and therefore more even resilience. We evaluate the effect and cost of such an intervention, finding that a modest subsidy can make a notable difference in evening out resilience across a community.


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2019-10-21 — Updated on 2019-10-21