Like many cities throughout the country, San Francisco is creating more comprehensive disaster response plans to prepare for climate change-related emergencies. As part of this effort, the City and County of San Francisco is working to deploy solar power in a way that will increase neighborhood resilience.
Led by the Department of the Environment, San Francisco’s Solar+Storage for Resiliency project will serve as a national model for integrating solar and energy storage into existing disaster preparedness plans. Through the project, the team will thoroughly map out the city in order to identify structures that have critical and essential power demands, and group them into solar+storage microgrids where proximity allows. These maps will cover the 11 supervisory districts in the city, identifying buildings that are part of an existing disaster preparedness plan, those that have power needs should a disaster strike, those that are part of a plan and already have solar installed, and areas where a microgrid could potentially be installed to group together several buildings within two blocks of each other. Ultimately, the team will produce four San Francisco case studies, which include a fire station, a police station, a building used for shelter, and another critical power need building. The project team is working closely with stakeholders to overcome regulatory, financial and technical barriers and create a roadmap for deploying solar+storage for resilience both locally and nationally.
This effort dovetails with other efforts underway to develop solar financing and renewable energy strategies. The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program GreenFinanceSF, gives commercial property owners access to new forms of financing for the installation of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation improvements. GoSolarSF, administered by the San Francisco Public Utility Commission with an annual budget of up to $5 million, encourages installations of solar power systems by offering incentive payments to reduce costs for homeowners, businesses and nonprofits. In addition, the City has created a solar map that tracks solar installations throughout the city and is investigating how this can be expanded. Through its eco-district planning efforts, the City has performed modeling of PV and storage to supply buildings in the event of a 72-hour power outages.
The San Francisco Department of Environment began by working with the Department of Emergency Management to conduct a survey of city departments to develop a list of emergency facilities, their energy use, and a map identifying areas of clustering in order to determine potential sites. The team also researched existing disaster preparedness plans from around the country.
In collaboration with the local utilities (PG&E and SFPUC), the team also worked to identify regulatory barriers, determine needs for each step of the process, develop community and policy decisions, and outline options for utilizing solar installations during an emergency.
The team also initiated their stakeholder engagement process, developing working groups of stakeholder involved in emergency planning and hosting a kick-off meeting introducing the project.
In 2015, the San Francisco Department of the Environment and partners will work to define disaster preparedness zones in San Francisco and further pinpoint where buildings can be grouped to form a microgrid and share power in the event of an extended outage. The Team will explore the technical feasibility of installing solar+storage systems in San Francisco and address technical and economic barriers to their development. Moreover, they will look into whether buildings with existing solar systems might be retrofitted, through the addition of storage for example, to enable access to the solar power generated by the system in the event of a power loss. This information will be used to draft an outline of the roadmap.
This project is expected to culminate in 2016 as San Francisco will publish their solar+storage retrofit roadmap including four case studies. The Team will also issue their Disaster Preparedness Plan identifying suitable buildings in San Francisco for solar+storage solutions, and detailing the benefits of implementation as well as the next-steps for project implementation. Other final products, include a financing report, a best practices manual, and a tool to support sizing a solar+storage solution for a particular building.