Puerto Rico is starting to take solar power more seriously


But dire finances stand in the way of cleaner grid.

 Nov 15, 2017, 12:30pm EST

Source: Vox

Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has his eye on the sun.

On Tuesday, in a tense hearing about the the island’s slow recovery, he told lawmakers that the Isla del Sol now wants solar energy to provide as much as a quarter of its electricity, transmitted across microgrids and backed up by batteries.

Before Hurricane Maria swept over the island in September, Puerto Rico received a paltry 2 percent of its electricity from all renewable energy sources.

But since the disaster struck, energy experts, legislators, and solar companies like Tesla have been arguing that Puerto Rico has a tremendous opportunity — a kind of tabula rasa — to rebuild its failed grid to be greener and more resilient.

Now the governor seems to be taking them more seriously.

“I am 100 percent backing renewables,” Rosselló told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “This is an opportunity to make microgrids in Puerto Rico so they can be sustained in different areas.”

The island is still shrouded in the longest blackout in US history, and most of the grid repair efforts so far have been to rebuild the old system, which is dependent on fossil fuels. One exception: a children’s hospital in San Juan that was brought back online in October with solar panels and batteries manufactured by Tesla.

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Credit: Tesla

Credit: Tesla

Solar Foundation partners step up Puerto Rico relief effort

Source: Solar Power World

By Kelly Pickerel | November 8, 2017

The Solar Foundation is partnering with the Clinton Foundation, major humanitarian organizations, and a wide range of solar energy companies to mount an industry-wide relief effort to help restore electricity in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The new effort, Solar Saves Lives, will organize deliveries of solar and solar+storage technologies to power critical infrastructure in disaster-impacted regions. These donations are being made at the request of governments in the region, and will be given directly to fulfill specific needs on the ground, as assessed by local officials and relief organizations.

The effort launches with more than $5 million in solar equipment donations from more than 20 companies and organizations, including Sunrun, BayWa r.e. Solar Systems, the SunSpec Alliance, CAM Solar, Carolina Solar Energy, Solight, Renogy, Campervan HQ, and Prana Power, among many others. The equipment ranges from portable solar equipment such as lanterns and cell chargers, to larger equipment such as solar refrigeration units, solar water purification units, and equipment for large-scale solar installations. Several companies have also committed to monetary donations, including corporate matches, launching employee giving campaigns, and hosting fundraisers.

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Credit: Fernando Tomás Wiki Commons

Credit: Fernando Tomás Wiki Commons

Combining Solar Panels With Agriculture Makes Land More Productive

Source: CleanTechnica

Solar panels are wonderful things, but they do take up a lot of space, especially for larger, utility-scale systems. In some densely populated countries like China and India, where loss of farmland can lead to hungry people, floating solar farms are being built to take advantage of the surface area of lakes and rivers. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute For Solar Energy Systems have conducted an experiment near Lake Constance — which borders Germany, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland — regarding another solution.

According to a Fraunhofer press release, the experiment involves 720 bi-facial solar panels covering about a third of a hectare of agricultural land (on the Demeter farm cooperative Heggelbach). The panels are mounted high enough to allow the crops planted below to receive almost as much sunshine as they would if the panels were not there and to permit farm machinery to operate beneath them. After a year of trials, the research showed the dual use system increased the total productivity of the land by 60%.

Fraunhofer refers to the dual use system as “agrophotovoltaics,” or APV. “APV has the potential to open up new space that is urgently needed for the PV expansion in Germany, says professor Hans-Martin Henning, the director of Fraunhofer ISE. “At the same time, APV can mitigate the conflicting interests between agriculture and open space PV systems for viable land. Before market readiness, however, other sectors and differently sized systems still must be tested. Also, the technical integration must be further advanced, for example, the implementation of storage.”

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Credit: CleanTechnica

Credit: CleanTechnica