Solar Energy And Storage Helping With Puerto Rico Disaster Recovery

Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma as it approached Puerto Rico | Image : NOAA

Residents of the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico are still reeling from the damage wreaked by two recent hurricanes, a situation further complicated by an ongoing lack of mains electricity.

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the northeast Caribbean Sea. On September 8, Puerto Rico was heavily impacted by Category 5 Hurricane Irma. While it avoided a direct hit, high winds caused a loss of electrical power to around one million residents – close to a third of the population. Irma was followed by Hurricane Maria on September 20, which made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm.

The double-whammy has left Puerto Rico’s electricity grid basically destroyed, with some of the island’s population at risk of being without power for up to six months. Vice News reported that on Saturday, 95 percent of the island remained without power and the CEO of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority has stated it would be two to three months before even 50 percent of electricity is restored.

Solar energy and storage is expected to play an important role in bringing emergency electricity to Puerto Rico’s affected population.

As we mentioned yesterday, Tesla has been sending hundreds of battery packs to Puerto Rico, but Tesla isn’t the only solar/storage company with boots on the ground in Puerto Rico.

Yesterday, German battery company sonnen Inc. pledged to build and donate microgrids to help bring emergency power to the island.  The company is focusing on assisting emergency medical clinics that require power for refrigerating medicines, as well as emergency shelters.

“What is happening in Puerto Rico is a tragedy and as fellow human beings, it is our duty to stand firmly with the people of Puerto Rico and do everything possible to help start the rebuilding process,” said Christoph Ostermann, founder and CEO of sonnen Inc.

Mr. Ostermann has set a goal of having the first solar powered, sonnen-battery based microgrids up and running in less than a month’s time.

Other solar-related recovery efforts include formerly homeless men and women from Detroit assembling 100-watt, 12-volt polycrystalline portable solar panels that are to be delivered to the island. Sunnova Energy Corporation is working to send batteries to the island to integrate into existing solar power installations. Elsewhere, various fundraising efforts are under way to raise money to send solar kits and lanterns to those without power.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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