Hurricane Maria triggered a raft of solar and energy storage initiatives to repower homes and businesses (Credit: US Department of Defense)
PV-based microgrids could be instrumental in rebuilding Puerto Rico’s power system, ravaged by a major tropical storm almost two years ago.
The Caribbean island saw 80% of its transmission and distribution network wiped out by hurricane Maria in September 2017 but now looks set to witness a microgrid upswing in coming years, according to Wood Mackenzie.
The market, the consultancy estimated in a new report, could grow from 86MW recorded in March 2019 to 228MW by the end of 2024. Rising competition could see cumulative market investments peak US$419 million by that year, Wood Mackenzie calculated.
Isaac Maze-Rothstein, research associate at the firm, told PV Tech the expectation is that PV-powered microgrids will account for 67MW of the 228MW total by 2024, up from the current 23MW.
Solar systems, typically paired with fossil fuels and storage batteries, will face the same constraints as microgrids more broadly, Maze-Rothstein said. Access to third-party finance, net metering and a standard process for interconnection will be key challenges, he added.
PV microgrids for hospitals and clinics
A category 5 hurricane at landfall, Maria remains the strongest storm Puerto Rico, a US territory, has faced for almost a century. Since 2017, US president Trump has come under fire over the federal response and his decision to dispute Puerto Rico’s death toll estimates, exceeding 3,000 casualties.
The event sparked a raft of initiatives of solar and energy storage players, which – as noted by sister title Energy Storage News – had already enjoyed unsubsidised success on the island before hurricane Maria.
According to Wood Mackenzie’s Maze-Rothstein, post-storm PV-powered microgrids have been mostly rolled out across healthcare, rather than industrial facilities. For budget-starved hospitals and others, Maze-Rothstein went on to say, affordable financing is especially important.
Roll-out is also gathering steam beyond the healthcare segment, however. Wood Mackenzie identified over 1,000 residential solar-plus-storage systems – which the firm does not formally consider microgrids – installed in 2018 alone, together with dozens of smaller commercial units.
Jan 20, 2021 GMT
Virtually all PV modules for large-scale utility-based solar sites are imported to the US, especially from Chinese companies using manufacturing sites across Southeast Asia. This puts extreme pressure on US site developers, EPCs and investors, in understanding fully the differences between the companies offering imported PV modules How credible are the companies supplying the products? What is the financial health of the parent entity? Where is the module produced, and is this undertaken in-house or through third-party OEMs? What is the supply-chain for the module sub-components including wafers and cells? And then, how will the modules perform in the field, and is it possible to gauge reliability levels benchmarked against competitors? This webinar will provide insights from two of the leading experts in PV module manufacturing, supply, performance and reliability: Jenya Meydbray of PV Evolution Labs and Finlay Colville from PV-Tech. The 1-hour session will include presentations from Jenya and Finlay, and then a brand-new supplier scorecard matrix that combines the key outputs from PVEL's Module Reliability Scorecard and PV-Tech's PV ModuleTech Bankability Ratings, with specific focus on module supply and use in the US market.
Feb 23 - Mar 03, 2021
The Energy Storage Summit plays a pivotal role in the journey to propelling the industry into the next stage of its development, providing an unrivalled platform to develop the right partnerships and create business opportunities of all sizes. This eco-system event brings together the entire value chain including Utilities, Developers, EPCs, Investors, Manufacturers, Energy storage providers, local government and DNO’s making this the must–attend storage event for 2021. Not just virtual, but you will get 4 days of content over the course of 2 weeks.