Sonnen Creates Foundation to Further Puerto Rico’s Microgrid Effort

German company sonnen has established the Foundation for Energy Security to bring more microgrids to Puerto Rico, as the island rebuilds from Hurricane Maria’s crushing blow.

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San Juan’s historic old town, where 169 homes have lacked stable grid power since Hurricane Maria. Three sonnen microgrids now power the neighborhood.

Sonnen is installing community microgrids with island partner Pura Energia. Four microgrids already are operating using sonnen’s solar plus storage technology known as Energy Oasis.

The foundation plans to install additional microgrids at schools, community centers and relief shelters.

CEO Christoph Ostermann and other sonnen executives recently traveled to Puerto Rico to meet with island leaders, including Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.

“This trip deeply impacted our entire leadership team and solidified our resolve to help the people of Puerto Rico,” Ostermann said. “Speaking with government officials, residents and our partners on the ground gave us a ‘hands on’ understanding of the magnitude of suffering that has occurred since Hurricane Maria. We come away from this trip with as clear a vision as ever before for Puerto Rico and the rest of the world.”

Community members describe how the non-profit microgrids have helped them in videos here and here.

Sonnen and Pura Energia have donated six Energy Oases microgrids at key community sites across the island, with nine more microgrid installations planned in the coming weeks. Active microgrids include

Puerto Rico is primed for solar energy as we have the sun power and our electricity is one of the most expensive things on the island,” said Christine Enid Nieves, spokesperson for Loma La Nina Mariano, a food shelter which received one of the microgrids. “Solar energy would have a huge impact on every Puerto Rican’s financial situation, radically shifting the quality of life in the Caribbean. Power lines have been down since Hurricane Maria and grid services are not expected to be available for six to seven months or longer, making solar microgrids an essential element for relief and recovery.”

Sonnen says that in addition to providing reliable energy, the community microgrids offer a clean, maintenance-free and quiet alternative to fossil-fuel generators.

“Sonnen’s vision for Puerto Rico, like the established concept of sonnenCommunity in Europe and the United States, is to incorporate both solar and battery storage into new home development, resulting in an integrated approach that truly performs as a virtual power plant (VPP),” said Blake Richetta, sonnen’s senior vice president and head of the U.S. subsidiary. “Investing in Puerto Rico now will pave the way not only for recovery, but for long-term growth and prosperity. As a country, if we fail to invest in Puerto Rico during this time of need, the result could be disastrous.”

Sonnen microgrids now operating on Puerto Rico include:

  • Lavanderia microgrids – sonnen and Pura Energia have installed three solar microgrids in La Perla (8 kW/16 kWh), Loiza (4kw/8kWh) and Morovis (8kW / 16kWh) used to power community washing machines, refrigerators and some basic electrical outlets. Installed in communities whose water is contaminated by the deadly Leptospirosis bacteria, each microgrid is supporting hundreds of homes in its respective neighborhood.
  • Loma La Nina Mariana microgrid – Located in Humacao, one of the most devastated areas of Puerto Rico, “Proyecto Apoyo Mutuo Mariana” is a village community center that was converted into a food shelter to feed its residents. The sonnen eco16 (8 kW/16 kWh) works with a solar array to provide refrigeration and meal preparation for up to 500 individuals per day, in addition to clean water storage and basic electricity used to power Wifi communications.
  • Help Me! Aguadilla microgrid – A sonnen eco8 (4 kW/8 kWh) storage system combined with solar panels provides lights, refrigeration, microwaves and fans for a school that provides psychological services for children with behavioral and developmental disabilities in Aguadilla. The ability to power basic necessities for the school enables it to remain open.
  • Maricao microgrid – Two sonnen eco8 (4 kW/ 8 kWh) systems plus solar are powering refrigerators, lights, cellular router and other power services for a shelter housing 45 residents displaced by the hurricane in an isolated mountain town that will likely be without power for many months.

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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.

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