Sometimes, good things can come from otherwise tragic events. Two years ago, Hurricane Maria tore through the island of Puerto Rico and left the U.S. territory devastated. While the damages were severe and the humanitarian crisis was massive, Puerto Rico is making the best of the situation. They have a lot of rebuilding to do, but Puerto Rico plans to take advantage of the opportunity to make their new infrastructure better and cleaner than it was prior to the devastating storm.
Puerto Rico is specifically looking at its energy grid. It wasn’t in the best shape before Hurricane Maria. After the storm, it was completely decimated, leaving citizens without power for months or longer. It marked the longest blackout in the history of any U.S. territory. As they rebuild, Puerto Rico is looking to completely phase out the use of fossil fuels for generating electricity. Currently, only about 4% of the island’s total electricity comes from “clean” energy sources. Like many other countries and territories around the world, Puerto Rico has set a deadline of 2050 to be 100% free of power attained from fossil fuels. They’ll be relying primarily on solar and wind power.
The island will be taking a phased approach as they shoot for their 2050 target. For example, in the next 6 years, Puerto Rico hopes to have 20% of their energy coming from green sources. By 2040, they hope to have half of their total power to be fossil fuel-free.
Puerto Rico is a prime location for clean energy sources. The island gets ample amounts of sunshine, so the new clean energy legislation spells out a robust plan for installing rooftop solar panels. As an island, it also gets exposed to plenty of wind, making clean energy turbines a viable project, as well.
It’s an absolute “win-win” scenario. A clean energy grid would hold up far better during severe storms than one that is primarily dependent on imported oil and coal. It wouldn’t necessarily prevent blackouts entirely, but it would certainly be easier to get back online once the storm passed.
The big win, though, is for the environment. Going 100% green would drastically reduce the production of the island’s greenhouse emissions, slowing the global warming that has been linked to the generation of the storms that ravage the island in the first place.