Equipping Puerto Rican schools with solar-power microgrids

View of the ocean
Image from RMI - Islands Programme
Clare Kelly
by Clare Kelly
24 February 2020

Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico and left millions without power – in response Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has equipped Puerto Rican schools with what they need to withstand future weather events, grid outages, and continue providing education to students.

RMI, along with Save the Children and Kinesis Foundation, recently completed the installation of renewable microgrids in 10 schools located in the mountainous region of Puerto Rico. 

400 faculty members and 3,600 students were without power for six months after the hurricanes, but thanks to this project, they have access to clean, resilient power if future severe weather events (or grid outages) occur.

Introduction to Rocky Mountain Institute-Carbon War Room's Islands Energy Program, created in 2017.

Save the Children focused on helping schools and their communities become more resilient in the event of future natural disasters, and on strengthening social and emotional learning for the schools’ students. RMI managed the solar microgrid system installation at school campuses to ensure learning was not disrupted as it was following the hurricanes in 2018. Kinesis Foundation and other generous funders provided financial support for the project.

The project included the installation of sufficient battery and solar capacity to back-up school libraries, administrative offices, kitchens, and critical water pumps indefinitely in the event of an outage. Additionally, the project provided roof waterproofing, energy efficiency retrofits such as LED lighting, and curriculum support for teachers to incorporate climate change and renewable energy into their classrooms.

Solar panels in the BVI
Image from RMI - Islands Programme

"We are pleased the schools microgrid program will ensure students and faculty members now have access to a resilient learning environment. We hope this project will inspire and encourage other schools and critical facilities to explore solar microgrids as a pathway to building local energy resilience," said Roy Torbert, RMI’s Puerto Rico program leader.

RMI operates in Puerto Rico through the Islands Energy Program. To learn more about the programme visit the website and follow for updates here.

The Carbon War Room was co-founded in 2009 by Richard Branson and a team of like-minded entrepreneurs to speed up the adoption of market-based solutions to climate change. In December 2014 the Carbon War Room merged with the Rocky Mountain Institute – together they work across all energy sectors to accelerate the energy transition and reduce carbon emissions.