The Caribbean island of Puerto Rico was shaken by the devastating hurricane Maria in September 2017. The catastrophe hit the country so badly that even after ten months of the disaster, most of the residents were living in darkness. This problem called for a long-term solution.
Then came into picture a visionary who changed the story of Puerto Rico – Jonathan Marvel! Marvel came up with the idea of powering Puerto Rico with solar electricity.
The Mind Behind
Jonathan Marvel was born and brought up in Puerto Rico. He moved to New York to study architecture and, subsequently, settled in the USA. The devastating hurricane moved him to do something for his native place. Having worked on eco-friendly and energy efficient designs at his firm Marvel Architects, he set out to work on harnessing solar power for the people of Puerto Rico. He gathered funds from various sources and armed with a team of advisors, he set about daunting task of taking solar power to Puerto Rican homes.
How Are They Doing It
Marvel brought on board another Puerto Rican who was also based in New York, Cristina Roig-Morris. The duo, along with their team of advisers, set up Resilient Power Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico, fortunately, is endowed with abundant sunlight, which the team decided to harness effectively. The aim was to move away from the country’s excessive dependence on fossil fuels to meet their energy needs. The company tied up with the renowned energy company Tesla for solar-powered batteries. Tesla agreed to sell the batteries to them at wholesale prices. The government joined the endeavours and made efforts to make the territory fully renewable energy-powered by 2050. They launched Project Sunroof to study the solar-power potential of the Puerto Rican buildings and meet the goal of transitioning to a fully solar-powered island.
To give a fillip to an industry that met the power needs of less than 10 per cent of Puerto Rico and to make it power the entire island wasn’t an easy job. Adding to the woes, securing adequate funds in a disaster-torn place was a huge task.
Here came to rescue the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which is a non-profit group based in the United States. The organization proposed to fund a solar array installation on a community centre. Soon, help started pouring in from other sources as well. The Rocky Mountain Institute from Colorado extended support by granting incentives such as grants and low-interest loans to the residents to drive the growth of solar energy. The citizens are joining the clan. As one of the officials puts it, “We’re taking control of our energy destiny.”
The Road Ahead
The struggles are far from over for the Caribbean island. There are other issues surrounding the island like health care, water contamination, and mental health issues. However, the spirit of people like Marvel and Morris is helping Puerto Rico march towards a bigger, better, and sustainable future. They are a testimony to the undying spirit of the human folks to find opportunities in challenges. So, when are you going renewable?