Puerto Rico to Rely on 100% Clean Energy
Puerto Rico made a landmark decision to rely on 100% clean energy in the near future. The island has officially passed a bill to rely solely on clean energy resources by 2050.
Puerto Rico plans to make this law a reality by building infrastructure to accommodate natural gas as a primary renewable resource.
This was a difficult decision for the U.S. territory to make following the devastation after Hurricane Maria in 2017. But the hurricane might have been the primary catalyst to make this environmentally-friendly decision.
Before the hurricane, half of Puerto Rico’s energy was generated by burning diesel fuels and other heavy fuel. Another 20% of its energy came from burning coal.
Even though the island’s old law claimed that 12% of the territory’s energy must come from renewable resources, only 2% actually of its energy was actually derived from renewable sources.
Puerto Rico plans to streamline its renewable energy process by meeting benchmark goals every few years. By 2022, the island hopes to run on 20% renewable energy; by 2025, it hopes to run on 40%.
“The recent trend of states and territories aiming for 100 percent clean energy shows that states are increasingly ready to take advantage of all of the benefits that renewable energy has to offer — from increased access to affordable, zero-carbon power to spurring American innovation and job growth,” explains U.S. Climate Alliance executive director Julie Cerqueira.
“Decarbonizing our grid is good for the climate, protects public health, and it just makes economic sense.”
The desire for renewable energy has been a hot topic in March. In the last days of the month, the Department of Energy also announced that $28.1 million is being granted to develop wind energy across the United States. This includes land-based and offshore wind sectors.
Upcoming projects hope to make taller wind turbines in order to catch more wind. Some hope that operational offshore sectors will be achieved by 2025, a similar landmark to that posited by Puerto Rico.
Even individual homeowners throughout the United States have invested in renewable forms of energy, including wind and solar. For example, homeowners are upgrading their home to meet the EPA’s Energy Star Program. This encourages homeowners to help the environment and save up to 15% on their energy bills. But some homeowners have found luck with window coverings which can reduce heat gains by up to 33%.
In the meantime, Puerto Rico will have to work hard to limit its reliance on nonrenewable resources, like coal and oil. Its plan currently relies on more than 1,200 megawatts of solar power and an interconnected microgrid to connect various energy sources across the island.
Because Puerto Rico has already been remaking its electric grid since the damage caused by Hurricane Maria, this is a viable decision for the island.
Puerto Rico’s bill, however, is contingent on a funding deal granted by FEMA. According to Dan Whittle, a senior director for the Environmental Defense Fund, Trump may use funding for Puerto Rico to supplant his border wall instead.
“I’m not saying it can’t be done,” explains Whittle. “But it really requires a concerted effort to do that much, that fast. I’m not sure there is a lot of precedent for it.”
Microgrids are currently being established with the help of local communities in order to streamline the transition to renewable energy.