Six Tesla energy storage systems to serve as Vieques, Culebra microgrids
SAN JUAN – The development of six projects that combine solar energy systems with Tesla energy storage systems were announced Thursday by the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, for the island-municipalities of Vieques and Culebra, which have not had power since Hurricane Irma.
In Vieques, the systems are installed at an Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (Prasa) sewage treatment plant, the Arcadia water pumping station, the Ciudad Dorada elderly community, the Susan Centeno hospital, and the Boys and Girls Club of Vieques.
In Culebra, a similar system will be installed at the sewage treatment plant and other systems that are under development.
As explained by the governor, through solar generation and batteries, these facilities will be able to produce and store their own renewable energy during grid interruptions and will therefore be less dependent on diesel generators, which have proven to be costly due to the fuel and maintenance required as well as producing noise and harmful emissions.
In addition, when electricity to the municipalities is restored, Tesla’s battery systems could help stabilize the grid to avoid interruptions and reduce the cost of energy for businesses and residents.
“Due to the limited access to the island-municipalities, and the importance of the sewage treatment systems and their direct relationship with health and the environment, we understand the need to provide energy options to improve the capacity for recovery after the interruption of the network. These projects are part of the measures we are taking to build a better Puerto Rico after the passage of Hurricane María and ensure reliable service for the benefit of the citizens who reside here,” Rosselló said.
During the press conference, Prasa Executive President Elí Díaz mentioned that the storage systems installed by Tesla will benefit some 8,825 Vieques and 1,797 Culebra residents.
This initiative will allow the solar energy generated during daylight hours to be stored for consumption at night. Likewise, it will allow Prasa to operate with renewable energy for a longer time, reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
“After the passage of Hurricane María, the system of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority failed at the sewage treatment plants of both municipalities, so we had to resort to the use of emergency generators. The photovoltaic systems built by Windmar Renewable Energy could not work without batteries when connected to the Prepa system. With Tesla storage systems of 250kW [kilowatts] / 500kWh [kilowatt-hours], we can store the energy produced by the photovoltaic panels and use that energy to operate the facilities. Now we can operate the installation of Vieques 70% of the time at 100% capacity and the installation at Culebra 100% of the time at 100% capacity,” Díaz explained.
The governor added that his administration will use all the necessary resources to achieve innovation in the operation of the island’s infrastructure by promoting renewable energy and associated technologies that help make the grid more flexible and affordable, possibly creating a new model for the modernization of grids worldwide.
There is growing interest in the use of renewable energy with storage systems. For example, solar energy and battery storage will be part of the Shelter and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and residential storage systems such as Tesla’s Powerwall could be widely installed.
Tesla has proposed large-scale solar photovoltaic and battery projects for Vieques, Culebra, as well as in and remote areas that would allow entire communities to be more independent. The company also presented a proposal to the Public-Private Partnerships Authority for the deployment of a large-scale battery system designed to help stabilize Puerto Rico’s grid.
In October, Tesla deployed a solar and battery system to a children’s hospital in San Juan.
The idea is that instead of rebuilding the grid that existed before hurricanes María and Irma, Puerto Rico utilize its recovery efforts to build one of the most modern power infrastructures in the world.