Puerto Rico could reach fully renewable energy by 2050, according to DOE, FEMA

Published on February 09, 2024 by Chris Galford

© Shutterstock

In a new study titled the Puerto Rico Grid Resilience and Transitions to 100% Renewable Energy Study – or PR100 – the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) found that the U.S. territory could achieve a fully renewable future by 2050.

Over two years, the federal agencies identified pathways for the island to achieve clean energy through a mix of grid stabilization measures and distributed energy deployments. Backing this up, the DOE announced that this month, up to 30,000 low-income Puerto Rico residents will be able to apply for its Solar Access Program, and get connected to residential rooftop solar and battery storage systems without upfront costs.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to equity-centered climate solutions that provide a direct and immediate benefit to those grappling with the persistent and lingering effects of climate change,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said. “DOE is proud to launch Programa Acceso Solar to help achieve the pathways for clean energy outlined in the PR100 study and support the most vulnerable communities in becoming more adaptive and resilient in the face of natural disasters.”

In the study, the government also found that to meet clean energy goals, Puerto Rico would need to increase its power generation infrastructure by hundreds of megawatts in order to stabilize the grid and reduce current generation concerns, as through rapid deployment of utility-scale and distributed renewable resources and plenty of storage. Land not designated for agricultural purposes could be critical to these efforts. Under all scenarios of the study, rooftop solar capacity and storage capacity increases are a given, but they won’t be enough to meet the aforementioned needs.

On the downside, all of this could lead to rate increases, and the federal government recommended a strategic plan to control rate impacts without sacrificing reliability in the near term.

“The transformation and modernization of our energy system is one of our highest priorities and is essential for our socioeconomic development. On behalf of the people of Puerto Rico, I thank each and every person involved in the study PR-100 for working this report,” Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said. “I also thank the Biden-Harris Administration, as well as Secretary Granholm and her team, and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, for the unwavering support in helping us achieve our energy transformation goals.”