Canadian Solar and Tesla contribute to resilient electricity system for Puerto Rico school

PUERTO RICO - Eleven months since their three-building school was first plunged into darkness by Hurricane Maria, 140 students in Puerto Rico’s picturesque Yabucoa district have reliable power. Resilient electricity service was provided Saturday to the SU Manuel Ortiz school through an innovative scalable, plug-and-play solar system pioneered by SunCrate Energy with Black & Veatch support. Known as a “SunCrate,” the unit is an effective mitigation measure to back up the traditional power supply from the grid. The SunCrate can also provide sustainable power in the face of ongoing system outages and future natural disasters without requiring diesel fuel.

The humanitarian effort to return sustainable electricity to the K-8 school, found along the island’s hard-hit southeastern coast, drew donated equipment and expertise from a collection of North American companies. Additional support for the Yabucoa project came from Tesla, Canadian Solar and Lloyd Electric.

“We are grateful for this initiative, which will equip this school with the technology needed to become a resilient campus and not dependent on the status of the power grid. This means that if we are hit with future harmful weather events, the school will be able to open more quickly and continue providing services to students,” Puerto Rico Secretary of Education Julia Keleher said.

The SunCrate harnesses a scalable rapid-response design developed by Black & Veatch and manufactured by SunCrate Energy. Electricity will be generated by an array of 325-W CS6U-Poly modules from Canadian Solar. California-based Tesla contributed advanced battery energy storage through various Powerwall units capable of storing excess solar power and delivering it outside peak generation periods.  Lloyd Electric Co. of Wichita Falls, Texas, partnered to support delivery and installation of the SunCrate.

“As families in the region begin to prepare for the school year, this community is still impacted by the longest U.S. power outage in history,” said Dolf Ivener, a Midwestern entrepreneur who owns King of Trails Construction and SunCrate Energy, which is donating the SunCrate. “SunCrate, with its rapid deployment and use of renewable energy, should give this school peace of mind and hopefully returns a touch of long-overdue normalcy to students and their parents. When it comes to consistent power, SunCrate is on duty.”

The SunCrate is a portable renewable energy system conceived by Ivener and designed and tested by Black & Veatch. Its modular design uses solar PV panels, inverters and batteries to store and provide electric power in support of critical services such as police, fire, schools, clinics and other community level facilities.

A SunCrate can generate 23 to 156 kWh per day, and store 10 kWh to 135 kWh depending on configuration. A SunCrate’s power generation and storage capacity can be easily scaled through daisy-chained configurations to accommodate larger buildings and loads. Leveraging resources from Tesla, Canadian Solar, Lloyd Electric and Lord Electric, the unit in Yabucoa will provide an estimated 52 kWh of storable power without requiring use of costlier diesel-powered generators and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Its capabilities allow the school to strengthen its function as a designated Community Emergency Response Center in the event of future natural disasters.

“Canadian Solar has a long history of using solar power to support humanitarian efforts aiding victims of social injustice and natural disasters, including previous donations to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria,” said Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Solar. “We are pleased to make the difference for these schoolchildren in Yabucoa who have been without reliable power for too long.”

The SunCrate will also substantially lower the school’s ongoing electricity costs by providing a reliable source of renewable energy on site.

“Through our experience providing engineering services in Puerto Rico for nearly 50 years, including dozens of specialized projects for local government and industrial clients, we see great potential for SunCrate as a source of resilient power for the Commonwealth’s remote schools and communities at large,” said Charles Moseley, a Program Director in Black & Veatch’s water business. “We hope that the deployment of the SunCrate in Yabucoa sets a precedent for facility and municipal level migro-grid efforts on the island and beyond.”

SunCrate also has broad potential applications in conflict/post-conflict environments and in rural electrification efforts in the developing world, serving as a resilient source of electricity within hours of its arrival on site. Of particular benefit, the system’s flexibility cuts fuel costs to a fraction of a generator’s typical consumption when they are used around the clock with maintenance requirements.


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