The rural mountainous village of Castañer in Puerto Rico, that was left without electricity for 6 months due to Hurricane Maria in 2017, has secured support from The Solar Foundation and the Pathstone Corp. for a solar energy microgrid project that will have a battery storage installation as well.
The foundation will be donating solar equipment worth $40,000 to lower overall cost of the project.
It will be developed by the local community in collaboration with the foundation and the Microgrid Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez (UPR-M). Power generated will be supplied to small businesses in the region that provide essential good and services, with a view to expanding the solar industry in the region and build ‘more resilient communities’ with the help of clean and low-cost source of electricity that can still provide power during ‘future interruptions to the power grid’.
Both the foundation and UPR-M will directly support the project, including for the draft request for proposal and project management. The project should be in installation and construction phase of the microgrid by the fall of 2021.
“From an educational and professional development perspective, Puerto Rico’s engineering students will have a great opportunity to be front and center in the development of new technological solutions that have an important social and environmental component,” said Program Director for The Solar Foundation, Carlos Alberto Velázquez.
According to The Solar Foundation, the project will be supported by a grant from the US Economic Development Administration’s Puerto Rican Solar Business Accelerator (PRSBA). There was a ‘rigorous’ selection process to choose Castañer for this project under PRSBA. It will be followed by the foundation announcing a fresh round of applications for the 2nd microgrid pilot project for community clients, for which it has simultaneously launched request for guidance (RFG) call.
In February 2021, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) issued a call to seek proposals for 1 GW renewable energy and 500 MW energy storage capacity (see Puerto Rico Launches 1.5 GW Renewables & Storage Tender).