Sunrun has been selected to build Puerto Rico's first virtual power plant by the island's electric utility provider.
Sunrun said it will aggregate the solar and battery storage systems of more than 7,000 customers to form the 17 MW VPP. The company is aiming to dispatch the VPP in 2024.
“Puerto Ricans are ready to make the move to reliable independent clean energy solutions that will increase their sense of safety and security in their own homes,” said Sunrun CEO Mary Powell. “We’re solving energy insecurity on the island by switching the model so that solar energy is generated on rooftops and stored in batteries to power each home, and then shared with neighbors, creating a clean shared energy economy."
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Resiliency became a main focus in Puerto Rico in recent years as devastating storms have crippled the island's electric grid.
In 2019, two years after Hurricane Maria dismantled the island’s electric grid, the Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act was passed by the legislature to set the parameters for a forward-looking energy system that maximizes distributed generation.
The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau determined that VPPs were key to achieving the legislation’s goals of building a resilient and robust energy system and meeting Puerto Rico’s renewable portfolio standards.
Sunrun has more than a dozen VPP programs in various stages of development and operation.
Last summer, the company contributed more than 1.8 GWh to the New England grid and celebrated a milestone as the first residential VPP to participate in a wholesale electricity market. A Sunrun VPP likewise fed the California grid 1.1 GWh of energy during the summer heat waves.
Amy Heart, Sunrun's VP of policy, appeared on the Texas Power Podcast to discuss Winter Storm Uri, Texas’ interest in virtual power plants, and more. Subscribe to the Texas Power Podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
Residential solar systems have proved resilient despite Puerto Rico's harsh climate.
Sunnova Energy said that only 59 of its 30,000 rooftop solar arrays required repair in the two weeks following Hurricane Fiona, which struck Puerto Rico in early September, causing widespread outages as the island’s electric power grid failed.
The company said its SunSafe solar + storage systems generated nearly 2 GWh of energy in the first two weeks after the storm. Systems provided a combined 3.4 million hours of back-up power for solar + storage customers, with an average of 128 hours of power generated per household. It said customers averaged 5.3 days of solar + storage battery backup with many relying on their solar + storage system for more than 10 days.
Sunnova has been active in Puerto Rico since 2013 and has deployed nearly 40,000 batteries, claiming a 100% battery attachment rate since 2018.