Biomass Residue-Fueled Micro-Grid for a Rural Community in Puerto Rico
On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, destroying most of its energy infrastructure and triggering an 11-month blackout. This research looks to micro-grids and their potential for energy stability in hopes of revitalizing Puerto Rico’s energy system and making further sustainable improvements. Said micro-grids will be powered by already-existing solar panels and newly-constructed biomass gasifiers located at the headquarters of Puerto Rican NGO, Casa Pueblo, and within the community of El Hoyo, Adjuntas. The gasifiers will utilize locally available agricultural waste, such as coffee husks and tree prunings, and help communities develop energy independence and resilience in the face of future storms. To gather the data needed to create feasibility models assessing the implementation of potential micro-grids, interviews were conducted within El Hoyo, and data was collected from Casa Pueblo’s generation and load demand. The data showed that El Hoyo will not have a high enough baseline demand to add a gasifier to their current electrical system, and a purely solar and storage micro-grid would have the lowest NPC ($50,205.39) and LCOE ($0.2425/kWh), even if providing the highest amount of excess electricity (49,767 kWh/yr, 73.7%). Additionally, Casa Pueblo’s solar production was found to be underutilized with an excess electricity of 19,836 kWh/yr (91%). Installing a micro-grid with neighboring buildings would put excess electricity to use and also has the potential to be supplemented by a gasifier.