Sonnen, Pura Energia develop solar systems in Puerto Rico to combat the energy challenges on the island

It’s been more than ten weeks since Puerto Rico was damaged by Hurricane Maria and many residents are still reliant on generators for supplying energy requirements. However, Germany battery business Sonnen and it’s solar installation partner based in Puerto Rico, Pura Energia have announced they have installed an existing six solar storage systems around Puerto Rico, and have plans for more.

Since the devastating impacts of Hurricane Maria, Sonnen and Tesla both promised to donate resources to assist with developing additional renewable energy systems and microgrids. Tesla has recently completed a solar storage installation at a children’s hospital.

After the impact of the hurricane, multiple scandals have made it particularly difficult to restore a reliable source of energy to the main grid, leaving many residents reliant on diesel generators to create power. Creating a cleaner source of energy is now vital for the residents of Puerto Rico. The current systems installed by Sonnen and Pura Energia all include a range of solar panels and stationary batteries which store the solar energy for consumption in the evening time.

The microgrid facilities can be utilized for powering community household appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators, and other electrical devices. An additional battery system was integrated with a food shelter in Humacao, powering ‘refrigeration and meal preparation for nearly 500 people each day. Other projects include energy provisions lighting, fans, and refrigeration at school.

Whilst the microgrid projects are relatively small, many energy experts argue they are pushing Puerto Rico in the right direction and reducing reliance on the use of diesel or gas generators. Distributed energy systems also offer added assurance if a storm does impact on a major energy system in the future. It means smaller communities will not need to rely on expensive energy from rebuilding long transmission lines in times of future outages.

The government of Puerto Rico has suggested that 68% of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) generating units are now back online. The challenge with getting the units back online have been partly due to island terrain and logistics, as well as politics influencing these delays.

PREPA completed a deal worth $300 million after the hurricane company called Whitefish energy to plan to rebuild the islands destroyed grid system. However, information was revealed that suggested higher than usual rates and allowances were being offered for Whitefish contractors. The contract also indicated that the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and FEMA would not be allowed to perform an audit of the costs and profits associated with the project. A few months ago, the governor of Puerto Rico explained that he wanted to end the deal with Whitefish, but at present, the contractor remains on the island and work is continuing.