Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced the development of six projects that combine solar photovoltaic and Tesla energy storage on the island municipalities of Vieques and Culebra, where electricity service was interrupted after the passage of Hurricane María.
In Vieques, the facilities include a system for the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority sanitary sewer treatment plants, the Arcadia water pumping station, the Ciudad Dorada elderly community, the Susan Centeno Hospital, and the Boys and Girls Club of Vieques, he said.
In Culebra, there is an installation in the sanitary sewer treatment plant as well as other systems that are under development.
Through on-site solar generation with batteries, these facilities can produce and store their own renewable energy during grid outages, and are less dependent on diesel generators, which have proven costly due to the fuel and maintenance they require — aside from producing noise and unhealthy carbon emissions.
In addition, when the power grid is once again operating in Vieques and Culebra, Tesla’s battery systems can help stabilize the network to avoid disruptions and reduce the cost of energy for businesses and residents, he said.
“Due to the limited access to the island municipalities, and the importance of sanitary sewer processing systems and their direct relationship with health and the environment, we understand the need to provide energy options to improve resiliency when there is a grid outage,” Rosselló said, during a visit to Culebra.
“These projects are among the measures we are taking to build a better Puerto Rico after the passage of Hurricane Maria and ensure a reliable service for the benefit of the citizens who reside here,” explained Rosselló.
During the press conference, PRASA Executive President, Elí Díaz, said the storage systems installed by Tesla will benefit some 8,825 residents of Vieques and 1,797 residents of Culebra.
This initiative will allow the solar energy generated during the daytime hours to be stored for consumption at night or during the absence of sunlight. Likewise, it will allow PRASA to operate with renewable energy for a longer time, reducing CO2 emissions, Díaz said.
“After the passage of Hurricane Maria, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s system failed for the sanitary sewer plants of both municipalities, so we had to resort to the use of emergency generators,” Díaz said.
“The photovoltaic systems built by Windmar Renewable Energy could not work without batteries when connected to PREPA’s network. With the Tesla storage systems, we can store the energy produced by the photovoltaic panels and use that energy to operate the facilities.”
Now, PRASA can operate the Vieques facility 70 percent of the time at 100 percent capacity and the Culebra facility 100 percent of the time at 100 percent capacity, Díaz noted.
In addition, the governor said his administration will use all the necessary resources to achieve innovation in the operation of the infrastructure by promoting renewable energy and associated technologies that help make Puerto Rico’s grid more flexible and affordable, which could create a new model for the modernization of the network.
“There is growing momentum toward the use of renewable energy with storage systems. For example, photovoltaic solar energy and battery storage will be part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Shelter and Temporary Essential Power program, and we can expect residential storage systems such as the Tesla Powerwalls to be installed throughout Puerto Rico,” the governor said.
Tesla has proposed large-scale solar photovoltaic and battery projects for Vieques, Culebra, as well as in remote areas in Puerto Rico that would allow entire communities to be more independent.
Tesla also presented a proposal to the Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority for the deployment of a large-scale battery system designed to help stabilize Puerto Rico’s main energy network.
“Instead of rebuilding the electrical grid that existed before hurricanes María and Irma, Puerto Rico can use recovery efforts to build one of the most modern networks in the world,” the governor said.