Santa Barbara County Unveils New Nanogrid Emergency Response Trailer

Santa Barbara County Unveils New Nanogrid Emergency Response Trailer
Published on
May 4, 2023

On May 4, 2023, Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management unveiled the Nanogrid Emergency Response Trailer, which is an environmentally friendly solar disaster response service. This trailer -- outfitted with solar panels, battery packs, and a fuel cell powered by green hydrogen -- is designed to provide emergency services with a sustainable source of power.

This is a first of its kind for Santa Barbara County. The county leadership said this new purchase will serve as a new energy-independent resource to the community.

On the outside, the $200,000 trailer boasts the slogan “Serving Santa Barbara County Using Renewable Energy,” and it is equipped with a retractable solar array, hydrogen storage tanks, a tailgate ramp, power outlets, a pull-out table, and a television.

The emergency response trailer is energy-independent and designed to help residents during power outages.

The trailer will be deployed during power outages due to various types of emergencies. When residents are left powerless in emergency situations — such as a relentless winter storm system or wildfire — the Mobile Nanogrid will be deployed in impacted communities at a central location, such as a park or grocery store. It will provide a charging station for personal and medical devices, as well as be a point of information for communities impacted. People will be able to plug in and charge everything from electric wheelchairs to smartphones; watch the news and receive important updates on emergency situations; and store medications that need to be refrigerated. The trailer will also be showcased at community events as a model for resilient power projects.

The Mobile Nanogrid, developed by Sesame Solar, is a state-of-the-art emergency trailer that generates carbon-free electricity. Sesame Solar's is to “focus on decarbonizing disaster response in offgrid power,” according to Anne Webb, their vice president of sales. The county hopes to obtain a second trailer soon, Hubbard said, to base one in North County and one in South County.

But the inside is where the magic happens. Walk through the trailer and you’ll pass by the large, energy-independent hydrogen fuel cell, additional power outlets, storage spaces, a mini fridge, and a Keurig coffee maker.

With all that tech, the Nanogrid can start generating energy in only 15 minutes.

Plans call for the trailer to be deployed during power outages to assist various types of emergencies.

The equipment was purchased through funding from the Community Power Resiliency Allocation, primarily to help people in the community who rely on electric medical devices be able to access a source of power during power outages.

At the unveiling, Kelly Hubbard, director of the County Office of Emergency Management, spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the trailer. “This new trailer was an opportunity that came to us through some state funding and through other emergency organizations in the area.” She then explained that through a community member on social media, they were able to purchase the trailer.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to be more prepared for emergencies, but also to have a very visible asset for the community to see what the county is doing,” said Brandon Kaysen, the county’s general services energy manager. “This is a wonderful resource for us to have a further commitment to energy efficiency, renewable energy, and resiliency for Santa Barbara.”

The county hopes this new emergency response trailer will become a model for future power projects.

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