Solar energy could be key in Puerto Rico’s transition to 100% renewables, study says


It’s becoming clearer how Puerto Rico might meet its goal of getting 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2050. For more, read Solar energy could be key in Puerto Rico’s transition to 100% renewables, study says.

Key Takeaways

  • Last year, the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, with funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, began studying options to transition the island to 100% renewable energy by 2050.
  • The goals of this two-year, federal government study, called PR100, are to build an electricity system that is more resilient against future storms, to transition away from imported fossil fuels to cleaner sources such as solar and wind, and to make electricity more affordable. 
  • A half-way update on the study was released on January 23. In the report, researchers found there’s a preference among many residents for “distributed energy,” which is generated near where it’s used.
  • As part of the study, four scenarios have been modeled to meet Puerto Rico’s targets – all include more rooftop solar combined with battery storage. The first scenario aligns with the found preference for distributed energy and includes a focus on installing distributed energy, namely solar panels, on buildings where owners could get the financial benefits of generating electricity.
  • The final three scenarios include focusing on critical services like hospitals and fire stations, prioritizing deployment in remote and low-to-moderate income areas to distribute benefits equitably, and installing solar panels on as many other rooftops as possible.

Path to 100% Perspective

Reliable access to power is fundamental to our way of life and our ability to thrive – as individuals, communities, countries, and an interconnected world. The people of Puerto Rico know this full well, having endured widespread power outages due to Hurricanes Maria and Fiona. As the island looks to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050, it’s best that they heed the four key factors that contribute to the success of renewables and our drive toward a net-zero future: flexibility, efficiency, resilience, and reliability. A focus on increasing solar + storage is a necessary and key first step on their Path to 100%.

DOE awards $100 million for innovative floating wind, pumped storage and other emerging clean energy tech


Eight companies working on technological advancements in clean energy have been awarded millions in federal funding to help scale up production on innovations that would streamline sectors such as offshore wind and pumped storage. For more, read DOE awards $100 million for innovative floating wind, pumped storage and other emerging clean energy tech.

Key Takeaways

  • Recipients of funding from the Seeding Critical Advances for Leading Energy technologies with Untapped Potential (SCALEUP) are described as “disruptive new technologies” that will be transformational for the industry. The funds will “catalyze” commercialization of the technologies so they can be “broadly deployed.”
  • DOE cited Kent Houston Offshore Engineering’s two floating offshore wind turbine technologies as “disruptive,” noting that the company’s focus on designing more efficient turbines and lowering fabrication costs will lead to floating wind farms producing cheaper electricity while reaching profitability.
  • Quidnet Energy will use DOE funding to scale up its geomechanical pumped storage technology into a system that can be used commercially. Its technology uses subsurface rock layers to avoid some of the limits and expense of traditional pumped storage.
  • The first utility to make use of Quidnet Energy’s technology will be CPS Energy, San Antonio’s municipal utility and the largest one in the U.S.

Path to 100% Perspective

Investments in clean energy technology, like DOE’s SCALEUP funding, are important for bringing innovative decarbonization technologies to scale. A variety of technologies will have a role to play along the Path to 100%, including wind and pumped storage. The missing piece of the puzzle is viable long-term storage technologies which will be needed to provide megawatts of capacity and megawatt hours of energy during long duration seasonal conditions or unexpected renewable droughts. Power-to-X technology is a promising solution, using renewable energy sources like wind and solar to produce green hydrogen and other sustainable fuels that can be used for affordable long-term storage. We look forward to seeing how these eight companies will “disrupt” clean energy tech with their innovations.

DOE eyes AI, machine learning to accelerate long-duration energy storage research


A proposed federal research program to accelerate research into the durability and performance of long-duration energy storage is a critical step to meeting the Biden administration’s decarbonization goals, speakers said Thursday at a Department of Energy (DOE) panel. DOE officials said long-duration energy storage technology must be commercially ready, at scale, by 2030, in order to increase the share of renewables on the grid and meet the administration’s 100% clean electricity by 2035 goal. To learn more, read, DOE eyes AI, machine learning to accelerate long-duration energy storage research.”

Key Takeaways:

  • In July, DOE announced a moonshot goal to reduce the cost of utility-scale, long-duration storage by 90% within a decade, backed by federal research, large-scale demonstrations and domestic manufacturing incentives
  • Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk said bringing long-duration storage to the grid wouldn’t just make it possible to rely on more renewable energy, but also “increase resilience and lower energy burdens” for vulnerable communities.
  • Although there have been technical breakthroughs on long-duration technologies — notably Form Energy’s July announcement of a 100-hour iron-air battery — experts have cautioned about the limited window to test batteries in the real world.
    • ROVI, the proposed initiative from DOE’s national labs, seeks to close that information gap by using machine learning and artificial intelligence to model performance of different long-duration storage technologies, including predicting how the technology will lose performance or hold up physically over time.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) will be key elements for the design of future energy systems, supporting the growth of smart grids and improving the efficiency of power generation, along with the interaction among electricity customers and utilities. Centralized power systems enable equal access to clean power at the lowest cost, reducing economic inequality. Regardless of whether the path forward is more or less centralized, AI brings value to all parties. The more AI is used in the dispatch of power plants, the more it will be needed in the design and creation process for new power plants or aggregations of power generation equipment. AI and equipment expertise are needed to enhance the safety, reliability, and efficiency of power equipment and systems. AI and machine learning will play increasingly important roles in future power generation, especially as more communities and organizations come to rely on smart grids and renewable fuels for their electricity needs.

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash