The Potential for Using Local PV to Meet Critical Loads During Hurricanes

Wesley Cole, Daniel Greer, Katherine Lamb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus Citations


Hurricanes are a major reason for outages in the U.S. electricity sector. These outages are largely caused by damaged transmission systems. As a distributed generator technology, solar PV has the potential to supply local loads while the transmission system is repaired. However, hurricanes mean significant cloud cover, which reduces the ability of PV to contribute as a generator. In this work we quantify the ability of PV to provide energy during 18 hurricanes that made landfall in the contiguous United States from 2004 to 2017. Based on simulations using resource data from the National Solar Radiation Database, we find that PV generation never goes to zero during daytime hours for any of the hurricanes, though its potential is considerably diminished. PV generation ranges from 18 to 60% of clear sky potential during hurricanes. After the hurricane departs, the solar resource increases considerably, with PV producing at 46–100% of clear sky potential for the 72 h following a hurricane. When coupled with storage, PV is able to supply some minimum level of energy for all hours both during and after the hurricane. The amount of load that can be supplied is a function of the size of the PV and storage, the amount of solar resource available, and the duration of the hurricane event.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)37-43
Number of pages7
JournalSolar Energy
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 International Solar Energy Society

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-75382


  • Backup power
  • Battery storage
  • Critical load
  • Extreme weather
  • Hurricane
  • Resilience
  • Solar photovoltaic


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