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