By the time Greenpeace USA's solar truck, called Rolling Sunlight, rolled into New York's Howard Beach, Hurricane Sandy had deposited several inches of mud on the streets. Boats were wedged into houses. Every direction was pitch black.
"Everything was destroyed. It was completely desolate," said Robert Gardner, a coal campaigner and alt-energy advocate with Greenpeace who drove the truck from Washington, D.C. He remembers being able to see the stars in the sky, which was unusual in New York City.
Usually the 10-year-old truck, equipped with 2004-era photovoltaic panels, travels the country, touring college campuses and local events to demonstrate the potential of solar power and biodiesel. The photovoltaic panels fold out to 250 square feet and can generate the same amount of power that a typical American household uses, Gardner said.
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The vehicle has regularly encountered tough conditions. It's been ripped by sandstorms, snowed on and even attacked by a dissenter when it supported the Occupy Wall Street movement. Recently the trusty truck rolled up to utter devastation in Queens.