Expanding Grid Resilience in Puerto Rico with Solar Energy
Authors: Mariola Pagan-Hidalgo, Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico Executive Office and Communications Specialist,
Aileen Reeves, EDPR NA DG M&A Finance Associate, and Sam Cittadino, EDPR NA DG Senior Investments and M&A Associate
EDPR NA Distributed Generation (EDPR NA DG) and Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico (LTPR) have executed a 21-year power purchase agreement (PPA) that allows EDPR NA DG to install a 2-megawatt (MW) rooftop solar system on top of LHT’s Puerto-Rican Facility. This installment will provide between 95-100% of the site’s annual energy needs and save the maintenance, operations, and repair facility more than $10 million in operating costs. The project will be in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, a town on the Island's Northwestern coast.
The photovoltaic (PV) array will be located on the rooftop of the main hangar at the Lufthansa Technik subsidiary’s facility, supporting a 2-megawatt (MW) system, which will provide approximately 95% of their consumed power. Both parties have invested time and resources into reaching a form contract that will now allow EDPR NA DG to start the project in partnership with local developer, Carpe Diem. This marks an exciting new chapter for LTPR and its sustainability efforts as well as for EDPR NA DG as the company’s footprint will now expand to Puerto Rico.
The Importance of Green Energy in Aviation & Lufthansa Going Green
The Lufthansa Group is highly focused on achieving ambitious sustainability targets across its global operations. Most notably, Lufthansa Technik pledged to have its carbon emissions halved by 2030 compared to 2019 levels and to be carbon neutral by 2050. The company and its subsidiaries are primarily focused on accelerating fleet modernization, increasing the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels, optimizing flight operations, and improving offers for its private and corporate customers to make flying and transporting cargo more sustainable.
Lufthansa recently became the first European airline to join the First Movers Coalition (FMC), a group founded in 2021 at the United Nation’s COP26 Climate Change Conference aimed to drive technological advancements to help industries around the world reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company is committed to being an industry leader in aviation sustainability and continues to look for strategic opportunities to lower its carbon footprint.
Grid Resilience in Puerto Rico
Fortifying grid resilience in Puerto Rico is imperative to ensuring a secure and prosperous future for the island. In 2017, Puerto Rico experienced one of the most damaging hurricane seasons in its history. Category 5 storm Irma passed close to the island in early September, and in less than two weeks, category 4 storm María made landfall on the island. The fallout from the two successive hurricanes was catastrophic; 100% of the grid was inoperable creating a domino effect of issues with communication, transportation, water supply, and wastewater treatment.
In the aftermath of the storms, it took 328 days (about 11 months) to restore power to all customers on the island, making it the longest blackout in U.S. history. Puerto Rico’s electrical grid was outdated and in desperate need of capital investment before the storms, with power plants that were decades old, but the storms detrimental impact only went to further underscore the need to promote grid resiliency.
The implementation of renewable energy generation offers a path for Puerto Rico to increase grid resiliency, in a sustainable, incremental way that will also yield cost savings to consumers. Distributed generation offers a unique advantage in that it can be up and running within a few hours after a storm. In 2019, Puerto Rico passed an act that set a binding goal for the territory to meet its electricity needs with 40% renewable energy by 2025 and 100% by 2050. EDPR NA DG and Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico are taking the territory one step closer to its goal.
The PPA between EDPR NA DG and Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico is an exciting partnership for both companies that demonstrates progress in the aviation industry becoming more sustainable and Puerto Rico’s grid becoming more resilient and green. The benefits of this project are multifaceted, providing electricity savings to the off taker, reducing the facility’s emissions, and increasing power reliability for the facility in the years to come. Both companies hope that with this model they can continue to positively impact Puerto Rico’s grid resiliency and showcase the positive impact distributed generation will have on the island’s local economy.