Preliminary analysis of the PR100 program confirms that the island can be energy independent and virtually free from the economic ups and downs of fossil fuels.
Puerto Rico’s year-round sun exposure would be enough to meet up to four times the island’s energy needs, according to a preliminary report from the PR100 study, which the federal Department of Energy (DOE) commissioned from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory with support from other national laboratories.
The initiative aims to provide scientific data and model scenarios through which the governments of Puerto Rico and the United States, as well as other energy actors such as the private grid operator, LUMA Energy and the Bureau of Energy (NE), can make decisions about the use of federal funds to comply with public policy that states that The island will have 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2050.
The PR100 study will take one year and include community participation. Also, a contract has been extended to the University of Puerto Rico’s Mayagüez Campus for collaboration, particularly with regard to exploring power generation capacity through the installation of solar systems on the roofs of residences and other properties. However, the study is not mandatory and will not produce policy recommendations, a detailed implementation plan, nor does it replace the processes laid out in the 10-year Integrated Resource Plan that the Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and LUMA are to produce. approved by the Northeast. One of the things it should produce is to define what might be called “short-sleeved,” or quick-impact measures in favor of renewable energy that the island can easily implement.
During a six-month phased presentation, the PR100 team presented the initial findings, noting that the capacity of the island’s rooftops to capture solar energy “exceeds” 20 gigawatts, especially in locations near the coast. Meanwhile, peak demand, which today’s fossil fuel-based PREPA system cannot meet without incurring selective blackouts, is only about 3.6 GW and average demand is about 2.5 GW. Although the decrease in the population and the efficiency of devices is expected to affect the decrease in demand, it is expected that there will be more electricity consumption, mainly due to the use of electric vehicles. In either case, the rated potential of the roofs can meet at least four times the current demand.
For Dr. Agustín Irizarry, who was on the PREPA board of directors, the estimate of 20 gigawatts may be “a bit exaggerated”. But the world welcomed the initial findings as confirmation of the validity of the proposal he made with Quiero Sol, Cambio and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) that federal resources for rebuilding the electric grid be applied to the target. From that within 15 years, the island will generate 75% of its energy using photovoltaic and battery systems installed on the roofs of residences and other properties.
The 2021 study, which involved scientific modeling, aims to generate 5 gigawatts using rooftops and another 2.7 gigawatts if parking is used, but cautioned that it must start now to achieve that goal, drawing on $12 billion in federal funds earmarked by various sources. To improve the electrical system of the island.
“Puerto Rico has enough sun and enough roof not to burn any fossil fuels, and we’ve been saying that for 20 years,” Irisari said, stressing that what is holding back this goal is a lack of “political will” and pressure to preserve profits for fossil fuel companies. , which means, for example, that Puerto Rico insists on continuing to develop natural gas projects, which are not renewable, rather than accelerating in the direction of solar energy. Even with private companies installing solar systems, the need for brigades estimated to maximize installation of rooftop systems has been bypassed, he said, adding that PREPA or LUMA staff have been retrained.
As part of the presentation, Director of the Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3), Manuel Lapuy, said that to date, the cost estimates of $10.5 billion in FEMA and CDBG-DR funding for the power sector are 52.3% spread across the distribution system, 25.1% on Transportation, 1.2% on buildings, 8.2% on aqueducts, 7.4% on substations, 7.4% on telecommunications, and 1% on generation.
The possibilities of solar energy aren’t the only ones the PR100 team will explore.
According to their mid-year presentation, they have already measured that the northwest sector of the island is a good place to support wind (wind) projects that can complement solar generation. Likewise, offshore wind power projects “may be limited by the rapid increase in depth that occurs near the coast.”
Also, the preliminary findings regarding hydropower are that the 10 existing facilities have the capacity to generate 94 MW, but they generate only 39 MW because only four of the 10 facilities are operating. “[E]It is possible to increase generation and improve power factors,” they note about this type of power.
Regarding the adoption of electric cars, they point out that today there are 2,500 registered, or 2% of all vehicles, but by 2050 this percentage could rise to between 30 and 50%.
At the end of the year, the PR100 study should also address some questions about the economic impact. Among these:
What is the impact on the rate of electricity if the conversion is made to 100% renewable energy?
How will the economy be affected by the investments that must be made to target 100% renewable energy sources?
How many jobs will be created?
For PR100 updates and for sharing, click here.
To view the six-month report, click here.
To watch the COR3 presentation, click here.