Blue Planet Energy has focused extensive resources on supporting the rebuilding of Puerto Rico’s energy systems after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Even now, more than 6 months after the hurricane, thousands of people still remain without power and millions experience unreliable power on a daily basis. We are delighted to have the support and cooperation of several local partners to enable Blue Ion energy storage systems to be deployed throughout Puerto Rico for towns, businesses, and homes to become grid independent. With the Atlantic hurricane season beginning on June 1st, off-grid power in the Caribbean is more important than ever.
When the Grid Goes Down, You Lose More than the Lights
Vital services such as water pumping and health care can grind to a halt also. We are excited for our partnership with the nonprofit Water Mission to address those in desperate need of clean water in Puerto Rico. Through integration of solar panels and our Blue Ion batteries, we have enabled the town of Corozal to have clean-energy powered clean drinking water. The town lost half its population due to the lack of electricity and water. Now the remaining 60 families are able to have reliable water supplies.
Puerto Rico & Hawaii - Learning Laboratories for Resiliency and Clean Energy
Hawaii’s history in addressing its fossil fuel dependence through renewable energy growth, only to be hindered by the resistance from the utility and inadequacies of the grid, serve as a warning for what may be to come for Puerto Rico. The island in the Caribbean only has 2% renewable energy currently and could be much more self-reliant through clean energy. Solar, wind and tidal power could provide low-cost energy generation and lower the crippling cost of fossil-fuel imports. Though for this to succeed, Puerto Rico needs a regulatory and policy framework to enable investment and grid integration. As the regulators proceed at a sloth-like pace through plans, many in Puerto Rico are turning to grid independence as the way forward. Now the grid is backup and project owners choose if they want to connect or not. Such resilient infrastructure is a way forward that Hawaii’s existing solar installations need to be aware of.
Microgrids Continue to be Focus of Recovery in Puerto Rico
We are now closer to the start of Hurricane Season in the Caribbean than we are to Hurricane Maria, which Puerto Rico is still recovering from. With the grid still unreliable and under construction, microgrids are a viable, flexible solution for breaking one, monolithic grid into Tetris pieces that can be pieced together.
Solar — Batteries Not Included — Fails Just as Soon as the Grid Does
Hurricane Maria could serve as a massive wake-up call for residential PV customers. It seems there is still a widespread misunderstanding about what happens when the grid goes down to a to grid-tied solar installation. It was a shock to most of the 10,000 homes with solar in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria took out the grid. Despite having sun shining on solar panels, those homes had no power. With no grid, the voltage-following inverters cannot function and for safety reasons, homes with rooftop solar cannot operate while connected to a grid that is down. Part of our mission in Puerto Rico has involved education around off-grid and grid independent solar installations that integrate energy storage. While in Puerto Rico, Blue Planet Energy VP of Engineering Kyle Bolger provided technical training for over 100 solar installers on off-grid systems. The company also sponsored and spoke at the Clean Energy Summit in February.
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