• Puerto Rico is thinking of adding 2,220 MW of solar PV along with 1,080 MW of battery energy storage system for the nation by 2038, according to its draft 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP)
  • The IRP draft talks about the steps over a 20-year period between 2019 and 2038 that the nation should be taking to ensure sustainable energy supply
  • Conducted by Siemens, the report found renewable cost benefits alone justifying greater levels of penetration, making it possible to comply with the renewable portfolio standard

Forced by natural calamities suffered during devastating Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, Puerto Rico’s attempts to rethink its power supply system and has finally come out with its  draft 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). It outlines the tasks Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) should be taking over a 20-year window from 2019 to 2038 to ensure sustainable, clean energy and secure supply for the US unincorporated territory.

Renewables find a bigger role to play in Puerto Rico under the 2019 IRP, as most mature and emerging markets are consciously weaving into their respective country’s future energy needs, with special focus on solar PV and storage. The report recommends 2,220 MW of new solar power capacity with 1,080 MW of battery energy storage system (BESS). It also suggests phasing out the use of coal and bunker oil.

The draft aims to address challenges, such as shifting from a centralized generation concentrated in the south of the island to more decentralized generation resources distributed across the island, achieve reduction of cost with renewable resources incorporated into the system, and secure compliance with the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) mandate.

PREPA commissioned the study to Siemens Industry, Inc.-Siemens Power Technologies International that found renewable cost benefits alone justified greater levels of penetration, and consequently making it possible to comply with the RPS. Complete version of the 2019 IRP was to be released on February 12, 2019.

This new focus on deploying solar energy on the island is long-overdue, and the planned investments in energy storage technology will make Puerto Rico’s energy system more resilient to disruptions. Getting new solar and storage deployed quickly should also allow PREPA and its customers to move away from high cost imported fossil fuels, reduce toxic emissions, and reduce costs for families and businesses,” said non-profit organization Sierra Club’s Senior Strategy and Technical Advisor, Jeremy Fisher. “I hope the utility is able to move forward quickly on cost-effectively implementing these solar and storage plans, and looks to minimize new investments in fossil fuel plants and imports.”

Nonetheless, an article in Forbes finds no mention of the need for Puerto Ricans to install rooftop solar and storage solutions for homeowners in the 2019 IRP. In the absence of this, the author of the article feels, profits of the utility may go lower, as past experience shows some of the well-off homeowners have invested in solar systems with power back up to be able to deal with a similar future.