Hurricane-resistant solar and energy storage microgrid to be built in Puerto Rico


Power management company Eaton has partnered with Enel X for a second joint microgrid project in Puerto Rico.

The solar-plus-storage facility is intended to support Eaton’s Las Piedras circuit breaker manufacturing plant, lessening the company’s reliance on the island’s energy infrastructure.

Enel said it will finance the project under an energy-as-a-service model, shifting Eaton’s investment in the microgrid system from capital to an operational expense. Eaton said it will provide expertise in installation, as well as supplying some system components, including the microgrid controller and plant electrical distribution equipment.

The Las Piedras microgrid will integrate nearly 5 MW of solar PV and about 1.1 MW/2.2 MWh of battery storage into the facility’s onsite power generation systems. Together with the Arecibo microgrid, the two facilities are planned to contribute 10 MW of solar PV, and 2.23 MW battery storage by 2022.

Eaton’s Arecibo plant is the site of the first microgrid built in partnership with Enel X.

Image: Eaton

The Enel X distributed energy resources optimization software will manage the system to maximize project value across applications that include bill savings, incentive programs, and grid services.

The project will be constructed to withstand Category 5 hurricane-force winds. Large-scale power outages on the island have increased 67% since 2000, said Climate Central. Microgrids offer backup power when the grid is down, and can balance when, where, and how electricity is stored. When grid power is restored, microgrids can provide added value by delivering renewable energy and reducing stress on the grid.

“As extreme weather caused by the climate crisis becomes the new normal, commercial and industrial businesses need to adopt an integrated energy strategy and solutions that are both resilient and sustainable,” said Surya Panditi, head of Enel X North America.

Puerto Rico’s Energy Bureau has set targets of 3,500 MW of solar and 1,500 MW storage by 2025.

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