Resilient Solar and Battery Storage for Cooling Centers: Mitigating the Impacts of Extreme Heat on Vulnerable Populations

October 20, 2022

Marriele Mango | Clean Energy Group

Extreme heat is responsible for more weather-related deaths than any other weather event. Community service providers and emergency preparedness leaders scramble each summer to ensure those at high risk – including electricity-dependent, medically vulnerable, and elderly individuals as well as those without access to in-home air conditioning – have access to cooling centers, air-conditioned locations that have been designated as public sites to provide relief and safety during extreme heat.

Demand for electricity often rises dramatically on hot days, as more people turn on their air conditioners, which places additional stress on the grid and can lead to power outages. When high temperatures coincide with a power outage, hospitalizations and fatalities rise, with low-income communities, communities of color, and medically vulnerable individuals experiencing disproportionate health impacts. As the number of high temperature days and occurrence of extreme weather events continue to climb, this deadly combination will continue to wreak havoc on public health in almost every state in the United States.

This report, Resilient Solar and Battery Storage for Cooling Centers: Mitigating the Impacts of Extreme Heat on Vulnerable Populations, prepared by Clean Energy Group (CEG) with American Microgrid Solutions (AMS), examines the opportunity for resilient solar+storage to provide reliable backup power to cooling centers. Health impacts are explored, as well as disparities in the how extreme heat and power outages harm vulnerable populations. The report includes seven case studies, a critical cooling facility in each region of the country, each with a technoeconomic analysis for installing and operating solar PV paired with battery storage. The report concludes with a discussion of project economics and how utility programs, incentives, and determining a value of resilience can promote more equitable solar+storage adoption in underserved communities. Detailed appendixes include more in-depth information related to cooling center electrical considerations and solar+storage system design and configuration.