Monday, January 30, 2023

Renewable energy potential in Puerto Rico exceeds current demand

The renewable energy potential in Puerto Rico significantly exceeds the current total energy demand and until 2050, according to a first report published this Monday by the United States Department of Energy (DOE).

The document emphasizes that distributed energy resources and alternative system configurations, such as community solar and agrivoltaics, could ensure that Puerto Rico meets its renewable energy goals while preserving agricultural lands and protected areas.

The DOE report, together with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), was published on the first year of the Resilience Study of the Puerto Rico Electric Grid and the Transition to 100% Renewable Energy (PR100).

The study aims to generate community-driven pathways to meet the goal of 100% renewable electricity in Puerto Rico by 2050 and improve the resilience of the power system to future extreme weather events such as hurricanes.

Preliminary DOE and FEMA findings also concluded that significant additional generation capacity is needed immediately on the island to improve system reliability.

Smaller renewable resources, spread throughout the power system, could recover faster during disruptive events than the current system, which consists of fewer and more large power plants, they added.

The report underscored that prioritizing stakeholder input and inter-agency coordination is key to overcoming the challenges of the past.

“For too long, Puerto Ricans have lived with an outdated and expensive electrical system where unnecessary obstacles and long delays have prevented critical upgrades,” US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said in a statement.

The secretary added that “access to renewable energy can help save lives” and that the DOE and FEMA teams are working to “help put Puerto Rico on the path to a more resilient and reliable energy future.”

In October 2022, following the devastating Hurricane Fiona, US President Joe Biden announced the Puerto Rico Grid Modernization and Recovery Team to work with local and federal governments to identify and address impediments to expedited deployment infrastructure.

Beginning in 2023, Secretary Granholm will visit Puerto Rico to hear firsthand and learn about issues affecting the resiliency of the island’s power grid.

Destroyed by Hurricane Maria in 2017, Puerto Rico’s power grid remains highly vulnerable, causing frequent blackouts and has led to a boom in solar panel installations, including in private homes.

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