Puerto Rican cement product manufacturing company Master Products in Toa Baja announced Tuesday the start of a new phase in energy self-sufficiency with the installation of a $1.8 million solar panel system for its plant.
The solar panels will supply 100 percent of the company’s energy needs, and positions it as the first in its category in Puerto Rico to move off the power grid. Its Master Paints plant in Guayanilla has been operating similarly for five years, company officials said.
“We’re pleased to have taken this big step and see this become a reality,” said Ricardo Cardona, president of Master Products.
“With the establishment of this system not only will we reduce our operating costs, but will diminish any emission of pollutants with which we contribute to greater environmental quality,” he said.
“We also show that local entrepreneurship is alive, willing to innovate and ready to contribute to the socioeconomic development of the island,” he added.
The system consists of 1,972 solar panels in an area of some 3,924 meters, and has the capacity to generate 652 kilowatts. The Puerto Rican firm Aireko conducted the construction and installation of the system that received financial support from U.S. Rural Development and the Green Energy Fund. The rest was obtained through private funding provided by Oriental Bank.
Francisco Rullán, executive director of the Office of Energy Public Policy, said this project “represents a major step that serves as an example to existing businesses and future development of clean and renewable energy, in conjunction with an energy efficiency program.”
Available natural resources are diverse and in combination with technology allow “steadily moving away from the use of polluting fossil fuels in power generation,” Rullán said.
Master Products employs about 175 people and has a history of more than 40 years in the cement industry.
“Over the last 30 years we have been the authorized Quikrete manufacturer product line, including the famous ‘Concrelisto.’ Quikrete has more than 100 plants that manufacture their products in different parts of the world, including 43 U.S. states, but this operation in Toa Baja is the first to be operated at 100 percent by renewable energy,” said Cardona.
Master also manufactures a wide variety of glues and grouts, mortars, and repair products, among others. Both plants employ a combined 300 people.