In Puerto Rico, solar power microgrids boost hurricane resilience
(The Guardian, 21 Apr 2023) As Puerto Rico seeks to improve power grid wiped out by hurricanes Maria and Fiona, can solar microgrids help keep the lights on?
When Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico and decimated the Caribbean island's power grid five years ago, the lights stayed on in one building in the mountain town of Adjuntas.
The Casa Pueblo environmental group had equipped its Adjuntas headquarters with solar panels and storage batteries - a model of green self-sufficiency that inspired the organization to launch a pioneering community-run microgrid in the town.
"We want to democratize the generation of energy ... we're pushing from the bottom up," said Arturo Massol-Deyá, who heads Casa Pueblo, which last month finished installing nearly 700 rooftop solar panels as part of the microgrid initiative.
The panels supply 14 local shops including a pharmacy and bakery and feed into a standalone network that can operate independently of the island's creaky, fossil fuel-powered grid - providing a backup during lengthy power outages after storms.
The microgrid will also be hooked up to the national network, with any power surplus helping to reduce the community's electricity bills.
The Guardian, 21 Apr 2023: In Puerto Rico, solar power microgrids boost hurricane resilience