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First solar-powered strong motion sensor installed in BVI

First solar-powered strong motion sensor installed in BVI

The government has increased the territory’s capacity to respond to earthquakes with the installation of a first solar-powered strong motion sensor to monitor local seismic activities.

Officers from the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) and engineering partners from the University of Puerto Rico Strong Motion Programme in Mayagüez installed the unit to confirm the feasibility of solar-powered strong motion monitoring.

The device monitors movements of the soil caused by earthquakes and provides data that is shared with partners throughout the region.

According to the Acting Director of the Department of Disaster Management Jasen Penn, the data collected from this device is shared across the region. This data will help local engineers to evaluate earthquake risks and help to guide safer building standards.

“The strong motion network is extremely useful, in particular, when it comes to designing buildings which are capable of withstanding seismic movement,” Penn said.

Sensors can now be placed in more remote areas


Previously installed strong motion sensors rely on a battery or external current, but a solar option means that going forward, the units can be installed in more remote areas, said Dr Jose Martinez-Cruzado, Director of the Puerto Rico Strong Motion Programme.

“Now that we know the photovoltaic systems work, we will be ready for the next visit when we will install four brand new solar stations, including at Norman Island and Guana Island,” Dr Martinez said.

The partnership between the BVI government and the University of Puerto Rico has been formalised since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) back in 2005.

This MOU covers the areas of seismic monitoring, providing equipment, maintenance, data capture and analysis for seismic events.

The government has been moving towards a greener and more energy-efficient society over the last couple of years. Last month a contractual agreement was signed between the BVI Electricity Board and the US-based solar energy company, Power52 for the construction of the Anegada Microgrid Project. The microgrid will help in reducing the resources required to operate the energy plant on the island and provide electricity for the people.

The government had also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the construction of three solar-powered box systems across the territory.

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