The Footprint Project’s mission is to provide cleaner energy for communities in crisis. They work to green disaster response in the aftermath of climate change emergencies.

In this blog post, we hear from William Heegaard, Operations Director at the Footprint Project, on several of their newer initiatives to deploy solar microgrids more efficiently and effectively when communities need it most. This presentation was originally recorded in HeatSpring’s free webinar Unconventional Solar Applications. Even if you missed the live session, you can still enroll to watch the recording. Check out the clip or read the transcript below!

I’m really excited to throw out some new initiatives that we’re working on, particularly this year and next year. I think one of the things we’ve been looking at is how to connect a number of mobile trailers (or mobile solar microgrids, or battery generators, whatever we want to call them), to a permanent microgrid and allow that kind of electron sharing between the mobile systems when they’re parked at a hub and the permanent so-called hive. 

We’re calling these beehive microgrids, a permanent microgrid, which would be the hive, and a number of mobile systems that would be the bees.

And then when the grid goes down, the hive can island and the bees can be deployed for regional or local kinds of resilience hub responses. 

We’re really excited about this. We’re just finishing up the electrical designs for a site in New Orleans and we’re hoping to start knocking down doors for funding to make this happen.

I think the next piece of this puzzle is getting more facilities upgraded with transfer switches so that the quote- unquote bees could be easily integrated or plugged into other permanent infrastructure that is still standing after a disaster.

The photo on the right here was the first time we did this out in Cloverdale, California during a P.S. or a power safety shutoff event.

They were able to use their warehouse, which is the photo on the left by plugging into our solar trailer, because they had already had a transfer switch installed. Otherwise, we have to pretty much run extension cords through windows and directly plug in appliances. 

We’re really excited to see the kind of expansion of transfer switches as a kind of stop gap while we transition – before everyone has a microgrid and everybody has batteries and solar panels, and we need less of the mobile systems. Installing transfer switches could be a really exciting way of making our job easier when we’re deploying.