Wind steps up after Puerto Rico devastation

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Richard Heap
October 16, 2017
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This content is from our archive. Some formatting or links may be broken.
Wind steps up after Puerto Rico devastation

Hurricane Maria caused widespread devastation when it hit US territory Puerto Rico on 20 September. This included the near-total destruction of the island’s electricity grid, which has left its 3.4million people with either limited or no access to power – and now, one month on, things are looking only a little better.

Last week, the US Department of Defense reported that only 16% of the island's residents had access to electricity. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority was more pessimistic, saying it was closer to 10% and forecast less than half of people in Puerto Rico would have power at the year’s end. This is not mainly an energy story, it is a humanitarian crisis, but one exacerbated by lack of electricity.

In situations such as this, it is tempting to find someone to blame – and, in this case, fingers are being pointed at PREPA, not least by President Trump. He has said the island’s electric grid was “in terrible shape” before Maria and, on this, he has a point even if we find some of his other comments on the disaster abhorrent.

The grid has suffered a historic lack of investment blamed on PREPA mismanagement and, last November, US consultancy Synapse said the system was “in a state of crisis”. PREPA was in little position to invest in the grid due to its ailing finances, which concluded with its $9bn bankruptcy filing in July. It is therefore no surprise the system was destroyed in Maria’s 155MPH assault.

But this provides an opportunity for the small wind sector, as crass as it is to use the word ‘opportunity’ in the context of this disaster. The Distributed Wind Energy Association said two weeks ago that its members wanted to help with the relief effort, and firms such as Primus Wind Power, Tesla and United Wind have been shipping wind-powered microgrids to help Puerto Rico residents get power and some measure of relief.

There is a precedent for this action. The use of microgrids in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Illinois has been hailed as a success as they helped to keep essential services running; and distributed renewables helped people in India cope after huge floods too. We should not only see wind and solar as helping to curb climate change, but as a vital part of recovery efforts after disasters worsened by climate change.

This is also a chance to highlight that distributed wind is portable and valuable. It is not just about homeowners that can afford to put turbines on the roofs, but taking power to those in need.

This follows in a proud wind tradition. We may increasingly think of turbines as the skyscraper-sized giants that are used offshore or the technically-sophisticated machines that manufacturers can tailor to particular countries. However, at its heart, wind is still a relatively simple technology and turbines can be transported to remote areas and set up on a microgrid. They have been used this way in remote parts of the rural US since the 1930s.

Puerto Rico may also end up as a valuable case study for how renewables firms can help set up a distributed and flexible electricity system in remote places, as opposed to centralised systems of the type Puerto Rico relied on before Maria. It could help those in wind and solar to educate politicians and others
about how to develop resilient power grids. The time and money invested in Puerto Rico could be highly valuable.

There is no guarantee that small wind turbines can cope much better than the previous system in an onslaught like Maria’s, but they can help get things up and running quicker afterwards. There is a question over how such change can be funded in places where utilities may have little time or money to answer such questions, but we would expect entrepreneurs to find a way if they wanted.

Finally, at A Word About Wind we focus more on how people can make money out of wind power and less on ‘saving the world’. The former supports the latter.

That said, we are also well aware that a great many people work in wind because they do want to make the world better. We respect that and, if those working in wind can help the people of Puerto Rico in this time of need, they have our great respect.

Hurricane Maria caused widespread devastation when it hit US territory Puerto Rico on 20 September. This included the near-total destruction of the island’s electricity grid, which has left its 3.4million people with either limited or no access to power – and now, one month on, things are looking only a little better.

Last week, the US Department of Defense reported that only 16% of the island's residents had access to electricity. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority was more pessimistic, saying it was closer to 10% and forecast less than half of people in Puerto Rico would have power at the year’s end. This is not mainly an energy story, it is a humanitarian crisis, but one exacerbated by lack of electricity.

In situations such as this, it is tempting to find someone to blame – and, in this case, fingers are being pointed at PREPA, not least by President Trump. He has said the island’s electric grid was “in terrible shape” before Maria and, on this, he has a point even if we find some of his other comments on the disaster abhorrent.

The grid has suffered a historic lack of investment blamed on PREPA mismanagement and, last November, US consultancy Synapse said the system was “in a state of crisis”. PREPA was in little position to invest in the grid due to its ailing finances, which concluded with its $9bn bankruptcy filing in July. It is therefore no surprise the system was destroyed in Maria’s 155MPH assault.

But this provides an opportunity for the small wind sector, as crass as it is to use the word ‘opportunity’ in the context of this disaster. The Distributed Wind Energy Association said two weeks ago that its members wanted to help with the relief effort, and firms such as Primus Wind Power, Tesla and United Wind have been shipping wind-powered microgrids to help Puerto Rico residents get power and some measure of relief.

There is a precedent for this action. The use of microgrids in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Illinois has been hailed as a success as they helped to keep essential services running; and distributed renewables helped people in India cope after huge floods too. We should not only see wind and solar as helping to curb climate change, but as a vital part of recovery efforts after disasters worsened by climate change.

This is also a chance to highlight that distributed wind is portable and valuable. It is not just about homeowners that can afford to put turbines on the roofs, but taking power to those in need.

This follows in a proud wind tradition. We may increasingly think of turbines as the skyscraper-sized giants that are used offshore or the technically-sophisticated machines that manufacturers can tailor to particular countries. However, at its heart, wind is still a relatively simple technology and turbines can be transported to remote areas and set up on a microgrid. They have been used this way in remote parts of the rural US since the 1930s.

Puerto Rico may also end up as a valuable case study for how renewables firms can help set up a distributed and flexible electricity system in remote places, as opposed to centralised systems of the type Puerto Rico relied on before Maria. It could help those in wind and solar to educate politicians and others
about how to develop resilient power grids. The time and money invested in Puerto Rico could be highly valuable.

There is no guarantee that small wind turbines can cope much better than the previous system in an onslaught like Maria’s, but they can help get things up and running quicker afterwards. There is a question over how such change can be funded in places where utilities may have little time or money to answer such questions, but we would expect entrepreneurs to find a way if they wanted.

Finally, at A Word About Wind we focus more on how people can make money out of wind power and less on ‘saving the world’. The former supports the latter.

That said, we are also well aware that a great many people work in wind because they do want to make the world better. We respect that and, if those working in wind can help the people of Puerto Rico in this time of need, they have our great respect.

Hurricane Maria caused widespread devastation when it hit US territory Puerto Rico on 20 September. This included the near-total destruction of the island’s electricity grid, which has left its 3.4million people with either limited or no access to power – and now, one month on, things are looking only a little better.

Last week, the US Department of Defense reported that only 16% of the island's residents had access to electricity. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority was more pessimistic, saying it was closer to 10% and forecast less than half of people in Puerto Rico would have power at the year’s end. This is not mainly an energy story, it is a humanitarian crisis, but one exacerbated by lack of electricity.

In situations such as this, it is tempting to find someone to blame – and, in this case, fingers are being pointed at PREPA, not least by President Trump. He has said the island’s electric grid was “in terrible shape” before Maria and, on this, he has a point even if we find some of his other comments on the disaster abhorrent.

The grid has suffered a historic lack of investment blamed on PREPA mismanagement and, last November, US consultancy Synapse said the system was “in a state of crisis”. PREPA was in little position to invest in the grid due to its ailing finances, which concluded with its $9bn bankruptcy filing in July. It is therefore no surprise the system was destroyed in Maria’s 155MPH assault.

But this provides an opportunity for the small wind sector, as crass as it is to use the word ‘opportunity’ in the context of this disaster. The Distributed Wind Energy Association said two weeks ago that its members wanted to help with the relief effort, and firms such as Primus Wind Power, Tesla and United Wind have been shipping wind-powered microgrids to help Puerto Rico residents get power and some measure of relief.

There is a precedent for this action. The use of microgrids in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Illinois has been hailed as a success as they helped to keep essential services running; and distributed renewables helped people in India cope after huge floods too. We should not only see wind and solar as helping to curb climate change, but as a vital part of recovery efforts after disasters worsened by climate change.

This is also a chance to highlight that distributed wind is portable and valuable. It is not just about homeowners that can afford to put turbines on the roofs, but taking power to those in need.

This follows in a proud wind tradition. We may increasingly think of turbines as the skyscraper-sized giants that are used offshore or the technically-sophisticated machines that manufacturers can tailor to particular countries. However, at its heart, wind is still a relatively simple technology and turbines can be transported to remote areas and set up on a microgrid. They have been used this way in remote parts of the rural US since the 1930s.

Puerto Rico may also end up as a valuable case study for how renewables firms can help set up a distributed and flexible electricity system in remote places, as opposed to centralised systems of the type Puerto Rico relied on before Maria. It could help those in wind and solar to educate politicians and others
about how to develop resilient power grids. The time and money invested in Puerto Rico could be highly valuable.

There is no guarantee that small wind turbines can cope much better than the previous system in an onslaught like Maria’s, but they can help get things up and running quicker afterwards. There is a question over how such change can be funded in places where utilities may have little time or money to answer such questions, but we would expect entrepreneurs to find a way if they wanted.

Finally, at A Word About Wind we focus more on how people can make money out of wind power and less on ‘saving the world’. The former supports the latter.

That said, we are also well aware that a great many people work in wind because they do want to make the world better. We respect that and, if those working in wind can help the people of Puerto Rico in this time of need, they have our great respect.

Hurricane Maria caused widespread devastation when it hit US territory Puerto Rico on 20 September. This included the near-total destruction of the island’s electricity grid, which has left its 3.4million people with either limited or no access to power – and now, one month on, things are looking only a little better.

Last week, the US Department of Defense reported that only 16% of the island's residents had access to electricity. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority was more pessimistic, saying it was closer to 10% and forecast less than half of people in Puerto Rico would have power at the year’s end. This is not mainly an energy story, it is a humanitarian crisis, but one exacerbated by lack of electricity.

In situations such as this, it is tempting to find someone to blame – and, in this case, fingers are being pointed at PREPA, not least by President Trump. He has said the island’s electric grid was “in terrible shape” before Maria and, on this, he has a point even if we find some of his other comments on the disaster abhorrent.

The grid has suffered a historic lack of investment blamed on PREPA mismanagement and, last November, US consultancy Synapse said the system was “in a state of crisis”. PREPA was in little position to invest in the grid due to its ailing finances, which concluded with its $9bn bankruptcy filing in July. It is therefore no surprise the system was destroyed in Maria’s 155MPH assault.

But this provides an opportunity for the small wind sector, as crass as it is to use the word ‘opportunity’ in the context of this disaster. The Distributed Wind Energy Association said two weeks ago that its members wanted to help with the relief effort, and firms such as Primus Wind Power, Tesla and United Wind have been shipping wind-powered microgrids to help Puerto Rico residents get power and some measure of relief.

There is a precedent for this action. The use of microgrids in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Illinois has been hailed as a success as they helped to keep essential services running; and distributed renewables helped people in India cope after huge floods too. We should not only see wind and solar as helping to curb climate change, but as a vital part of recovery efforts after disasters worsened by climate change.

This is also a chance to highlight that distributed wind is portable and valuable. It is not just about homeowners that can afford to put turbines on the roofs, but taking power to those in need.

This follows in a proud wind tradition. We may increasingly think of turbines as the skyscraper-sized giants that are used offshore or the technically-sophisticated machines that manufacturers can tailor to particular countries. However, at its heart, wind is still a relatively simple technology and turbines can be transported to remote areas and set up on a microgrid. They have been used this way in remote parts of the rural US since the 1930s.

Puerto Rico may also end up as a valuable case study for how renewables firms can help set up a distributed and flexible electricity system in remote places, as opposed to centralised systems of the type Puerto Rico relied on before Maria. It could help those in wind and solar to educate politicians and others
about how to develop resilient power grids. The time and money invested in Puerto Rico could be highly valuable.

There is no guarantee that small wind turbines can cope much better than the previous system in an onslaught like Maria’s, but they can help get things up and running quicker afterwards. There is a question over how such change can be funded in places where utilities may have little time or money to answer such questions, but we would expect entrepreneurs to find a way if they wanted.

Finally, at A Word About Wind we focus more on how people can make money out of wind power and less on ‘saving the world’. The former supports the latter.

That said, we are also well aware that a great many people work in wind because they do want to make the world better. We respect that and, if those working in wind can help the people of Puerto Rico in this time of need, they have our great respect.

Hurricane Maria caused widespread devastation when it hit US territory Puerto Rico on 20 September. This included the near-total destruction of the island’s electricity grid, which has left its 3.4million people with either limited or no access to power – and now, one month on, things are looking only a little better.

Last week, the US Department of Defense reported that only 16% of the island's residents had access to electricity. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority was more pessimistic, saying it was closer to 10% and forecast less than half of people in Puerto Rico would have power at the year’s end. This is not mainly an energy story, it is a humanitarian crisis, but one exacerbated by lack of electricity.

In situations such as this, it is tempting to find someone to blame – and, in this case, fingers are being pointed at PREPA, not least by President Trump. He has said the island’s electric grid was “in terrible shape” before Maria and, on this, he has a point even if we find some of his other comments on the disaster abhorrent.

The grid has suffered a historic lack of investment blamed on PREPA mismanagement and, last November, US consultancy Synapse said the system was “in a state of crisis”. PREPA was in little position to invest in the grid due to its ailing finances, which concluded with its $9bn bankruptcy filing in July. It is therefore no surprise the system was destroyed in Maria’s 155MPH assault.

But this provides an opportunity for the small wind sector, as crass as it is to use the word ‘opportunity’ in the context of this disaster. The Distributed Wind Energy Association said two weeks ago that its members wanted to help with the relief effort, and firms such as Primus Wind Power, Tesla and United Wind have been shipping wind-powered microgrids to help Puerto Rico residents get power and some measure of relief.

There is a precedent for this action. The use of microgrids in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Illinois has been hailed as a success as they helped to keep essential services running; and distributed renewables helped people in India cope after huge floods too. We should not only see wind and solar as helping to curb climate change, but as a vital part of recovery efforts after disasters worsened by climate change.

This is also a chance to highlight that distributed wind is portable and valuable. It is not just about homeowners that can afford to put turbines on the roofs, but taking power to those in need.

This follows in a proud wind tradition. We may increasingly think of turbines as the skyscraper-sized giants that are used offshore or the technically-sophisticated machines that manufacturers can tailor to particular countries. However, at its heart, wind is still a relatively simple technology and turbines can be transported to remote areas and set up on a microgrid. They have been used this way in remote parts of the rural US since the 1930s.

Puerto Rico may also end up as a valuable case study for how renewables firms can help set up a distributed and flexible electricity system in remote places, as opposed to centralised systems of the type Puerto Rico relied on before Maria. It could help those in wind and solar to educate politicians and others
about how to develop resilient power grids. The time and money invested in Puerto Rico could be highly valuable.

There is no guarantee that small wind turbines can cope much better than the previous system in an onslaught like Maria’s, but they can help get things up and running quicker afterwards. There is a question over how such change can be funded in places where utilities may have little time or money to answer such questions, but we would expect entrepreneurs to find a way if they wanted.

Finally, at A Word About Wind we focus more on how people can make money out of wind power and less on ‘saving the world’. The former supports the latter.

That said, we are also well aware that a great many people work in wind because they do want to make the world better. We respect that and, if those working in wind can help the people of Puerto Rico in this time of need, they have our great respect.

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Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.