PR100, a study of energy solutions in Puerto Rico, has concluded that Puerto Rico has the potential to reach 100% renewable energy on schedule. A new report from the project shows that distributed solar energy installations — rooftop solar arrays in multiple locations — can bring Puerto Rico to 100% solar power by 2050.
While wind and water power are also practical for Puerto Rico, the Island’s 200 days a year of sunshine make it an obvious candidate for solar power.
While current energy costs in Puerto Rico are higher than on the mainland, and electricity is not reliable for most of the territory, solar installations have proven that they can withstand hurricanes and provide practical energy sources year round. Following Hurricane Fiona, solar installations that had been implemented after Hurricane Maria continued providing electricity while the rest of the Island was without power.
Solar energy would also be less expensive than the current system, which relies on importing fossil fuels by ship.
Since Puerto Rico is already being negatively affected by climate change, switching to renewable energy sources is a high priority.
Puerto Rico’s geography makes central power production difficult. While most of the population lives in urban settings, about half the Island is undeveloped land. Having solar installations in many different locations will be a more reliable and more practical than the current centralized effort.
PR100 compares four different scenarios for prioritizing the distribution of the solar energy installations. These range from the most economical approach, which focuses on creating solar panels on rooftops of buildings where they will lower costs for building owners, to the “maximum” approach, which will add solar panels to all suitable rooftops.
The investment required for the different scenarios is of course smaller for the economical plan and greater for the maximum plan. The most successful plan includes wind as well as solar power.
The PR100 study includes awareness of and action on energy justice, which means including the concerns of rural and low income people, as well as people with disabilities. These populations were disproportionately affected by the lengthy power outages following Hurricane Maria, as well as more recent energy crises on the Island.
These underserved populations will be prioritized under the plans developed in the course of the PR100 project.