Gov’t unveils plans for $300M thermal ocean energy project
The Department of Economic Development and Commerce unveiled a master plan to develop the $300 million Puerto Rico Ocean Technology Complex, or PROtech, to generate thermal ocean energy.
Agency Secretary Manuel Laboy also unveiled plans to seek new energy sources through other eco-friendly developments and scientific research along Puerto Rico’s southeast area.
“This project is extremely important and innovative. After several studies on feasibility, economic and environmental impact, we managed to prepare the master plan for PROtech, which will be developed in the municipality of Yabucoa, but will have a positive effect on the economy of Puerto Rico’s entire southeast region,” he said.
The zone is attractive for its deep waters, which the project will use to transform the island’s energy producing scenario, he said.
The project will be developed in five phases, starting next month, with the opening of the Request for Qualifications process. Land surveys and initial permitting will begin during the third quarter of this year, while the third phase — the design of the PROtech park and permits — will begin during the second quarter of 2021.
The fourth phase of development and construction will begin during the first quarter of 2022, with a completion date slated for the first quarter of 2025, according to the project specs.
“It is estimated that, for the entire construction, approximately $300 million will be needed. However, developers will be able to request the incentives available under the Opportunity Zones initiative and CDBG-DR funds,” said Laboy, adding that the project will generate about 10,000 jobs.
The PROtech project will be financed a combination of public and private funding sources, Laboy said.
“This is a project that we will need to develop through partnerships between municipal and state governments, the private sector, organizations such as Invest Puerto Rico and the academia, among others,” he said.
“We will implement several initiatives in accordance with the Puerto Rico Public Policy Law, which establishes the need to comply with a Renewable Energy Portfolio to reach a minimum of 40% of renewable energy for or before of 2025; 60% on or before 2040; and 100% by or before 2050. This project is very important to achieve these long-term goals,” Laboy said.
PROtech’s proposal includes the development of facilities for the conversion of thermal ocean energy, the development of deep-sea ocean industries, an education and research institute, a recreational, cultural and commercial center, as well as a hospital institution, among others.
All of the developments will benefit from the energy production of the project and are reportedly eco-friendly. The project will require between 150 and 300 acres to accommodate all of the planned facilities.
Laboy said the municipality of Yabucoa was the chosen site, as it meets the characteristics to develop a project of this scope and magnitude, including the depth, distance and temperature of sea water in that area; topography, and land availability, among others.