Puerto Rico microgrid at manufacturing plant to deliver renewables and energy resilience

Eaton and Enel X partner for microgrid development in Puerto Rico. The initial project incorporates onsite solar generation and battery storage at Eaton’s Arecibo plant (pictured), which manufacturers circuit breakers used in homes, buildings and industrial applications.

This week, power management company Eaton and Enel X announced plans for a second joint microgrid project in Puerto Rico. Both projects will reduce demand on regional energy infrastructure and enable Eaton to power its manufacturing plants with more renewables and boost energy resilience for its operations, said the companies in a press release. 

The solar-plus-storage microgrid at the Eaton Las Piedras manufacturing facility will integrate nearly 5 MWac of solar PV and approximately 1.1 MW/2.2 MWh of battery storage into the facility’s onsite power generation systems. The project is the second microgrid at an Eaton manufacturing site on the island. The two systems combined will contribute 10 MWac of solar PV and 2.23 MW / 4.46 MWh of battery storage in Puerto Rico by 2022. 

Enel X will build, own and operate the system on behalf of Eaton, financing it under the Energy-as-a-service (EaaS) model. The microgrid will use Enel X’s Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Optimization software, which Enel X says maximizes the value of the project across multiple applications, including on bill savings, incentive programs and grid services.

Eaton said it will lend its installation expertise and provide technologies for the microgrid system, including a microgrid controller and plant electrical distribution equipment. 

In addition to increasing the facility’s resiliency, the solar-plus-storage system will enable Eaton to generate, store and consume renewable energy, and support the local grid by discharging renewable energy back to the grid, reducing emissions by limiting the need for carbon-intensive electricity during peak demand periods, it said. 

The microgrid systems at the Las Piedras and Arecibo plants are designed to hurricane code in Puerto Rico and able to withstand Category 5 strength hurricane-force winds.

“The increasing frequency and impact of climate emergencies underscore the need for far more sustainable and resilient power,” said Brian Brickhouse, president of Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Americas region. “Around the world, we’re applying our Everything as a Grid approach to strengthen operations with low-carbon energy sources and the ability to withstand extreme weather emergencies. With our partner Enel X, we established a replicable energy-as-a-service model that exemplifies how to keep the power on — no matter what.”

Large-scale power outages have increased by 67% since 2000 and continue to impact millions of communities and businesses according to Climate Central. Microgrids are part of a resilient solution for utilities, manufacturers, schools, campuses, hospitals, municipalities and many others.

Microgrids can also provide additional revenue for owners when grid conditions are normal by generating renewable energy from solar, which can be consumed, or stored and delivered back to the local grid to reduce stress on regional utility infrastructure.  

“As extreme weather caused by the climate crisis becomes the new normal, commercial and industrial businesses need to adopt an integrated energy strategy and solutions that are both resilient and sustainable,” said Surya Panditi, Head of Enel X North America. “Enel X is committed to delivering custom energy solutions that deliver economic value and meet any organization’s sustainability needs. Through our growing partnership with Eaton, we’ve developed a replicable gold standard for resiliency, emissions reductions and energy cost savings.” 

Microgrid California took place this week in Foster City, California and POWERGRID International was there. Check back soon for articles on the top 10 lessons learned by microgrid developers and owners and an explanation of the Microgrid Act, currently making its way through the U.S. government as part of the Infrastructure Bill.

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