Enel X and Eaton Team Up on Solar and Storage Microgrid in Puerto Rico

on December 4, 2020

Enel X and power equipment and management company Eaton will partner on a solar-storage microgrid in Puerto Rico, one of the largest yet built on an island struggling to restructure its hurricane-battered power grid. 

The microgrid, Enel X’s first such project in Puerto Rico, will provide backup power at Eaton’s circuit breaker factory in the coastal city of Arecibo. It will center on a 5-megawatt solar array and 1.1 megawatt/2.2 megawatt-hours of battery storage. 

Beyond helping back up Eaton’s facility in case of outages or storms, the microgrid will also feed power back to the grid. The companies said the project is designed to reduce “demand on local energy infrastructure,” a common concern as the U.S. territory reimagines an electricity system that was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017. 

“If you think about the three things underlying projects like this, number one is the resiliency factor,” said Surya Panditi, CEO at Enel X North America, who also cited the ability for distributed resources to participate in local markets and economic viability.

Enel X, which grew out of energy giant Enel’s acquisition of EnerNOC, Demand Energy and eMotorWerks, will build the system along with an engineering, procurement and construction provider and then maintain ownership of it. Eaton will help engineer the project and contribute electrical equipment, including its microgrid controller.

The project is a “postcard from the future” for islands and other centralized grid systems transitioning toward more distributed resources, said Isaac Maze-Rothstein, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie who focuses on microgrids. 

In a resource plan laid out this summer, Puerto Rico’s energy bureau ordered the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA)  to acquire at least 3.5 gigawatts of new solar and more than 1.3 gigawatts of storage in the coming five years. Legislation passed last year requires the island to reach 100 percent renewable electricity standard by midcentury.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsEnel X and Eaton Team Up on Solar and Storage Microgrid in Puerto Rico