Sep 27, 2022 - News

How a Colorado-based lab is helping Puerto Rico's energy grid

An aerial photo taken on Sept. 20 showing a flooded area in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, after the the power went out in the wake of Hurricane Fiona. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Amid recovery efforts following a recent deadly hurricane, Colorado's National Renewable Energy Laboratory is studying how to improve Puerto Rico's power infrastructure by moving it toward sustainable energy.

Details: NREL, based in Golden, is leading a multi-agency group that's studying how to redesign the island's infrastructure to make it more resilient.

  • Called PR100, the study launched earlier this year and is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It includes research from six national labs, NREL research analyst Robin Burton told Axios Denver.
  • The study is attempting to find ways for the island to be powered by 100% renewable energy. Researchers are exploring how to use wind, water and solar energy to meet those goals, including looking at using off-shore wind turbines to generate electricity. Hydrogen energy production is also being researched.

Driving the news: Puerto Rico is reeling from Hurricane Fiona, which struck on Sept. 18, leaving millions without power. At least 16 people died.

What they're saying: "An event like this really underlines the importance of ensuring that the energy system's rebuilt in a really resilient way," Burton said, referring to the recent hurricane.

Flashback: Then-Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo RossellĂł signed a bill into law in 2019 committing the island to being powered solely by renewable energy by 2050.

What to watch: Burton said the Puerto Rico study will be completed by 2023.

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