Puerto Rico can successfully meet its projected energy needs with 100% renewables by 2050, according to a two-year study by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The report, Puerto Rico Grid Resilience and Transitions to 100% Renewable Energy Study, outlines pathways for the island to run on clean energy, including grid stabilization measures and deployment of energy resources.
“The transformation and modernization of our energy system is one of our highest priorities and is essential for our socioeconomic development,” said Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi.
The study launched in 2022 with funding from FEMA to engage a diverse set of stakeholders about priorities for Puerto Rico’s energy future. The report also includes a roadmap with implementation actions for leaders to stabilize the grid, improve resilience, and achieve local renewable energy goals.
One of the biggest findings in the report was that Puerto Rico needs to increase energy generation infrastructure significantly, up to hundreds of megawatts, to stabilize its energy grid and mitigate generation shortfalls. That also includes energy storage.
Developing renewable energy projects on land that is not used for agriculture is an important piece of the puzzle to meet the total annual electric load now and through 2050. However, these sites tend to have higher costs. And “investments in new generation to create a reliable grid could lead to rate increases,” the report noted.
Energy Grid Stability
The DOE also said Puerto Rico residents can apply for the agency’s Programa Acceso Solar (Solar Access Program), which is designed to connect up to 30,000 low-income households with residential rooftop solar and battery storage systems with zero upfront costs. The program has funding from the Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund, a $1 billion DOE program targeting the resilience of Puerto Rico’s electric grid, with an emphasis on the region’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged households and communities.
The program availability and report come as Puerto Rico’s energy grid has been hard hit over the last several years due to intense storms and natural disasters. The island’s grid was almost entirely blacked out in 2017 when hurricanes Irma and Maria essentially collapsed the transmission and distribution system. Another blow came in 2022 with Hurricane Fiona. A renewable energy system would add resiliency to the island’s power grid.
“As Puerto Rico continues to rebuild and recover from the devastation of Hurricane Fiona and other natural disasters, the Department of Homeland Security is proud to work with our partners to build the foundation for a sustainable, resilient future, where every Puerto Rican community has access to affordable energy and cleaner air,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.