AS Caribbean economies explore pathways towards their Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 11) targets for Sustainable Cities and Communities, electricity providers remain heavily focused on strengthening domestic grid infrastructure, and are exploring opportunities for the deployment of microgrid technologies to meet the energy needs of communities, support a diversified energy mix and increase supply reliability and sustainability.
In that regard Andrew Thorington, Technical Services Manager at the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC) represented the organisation at a major energy workshop in Puerto Rico under the theme Accelerating Caribbean Energy Resilience (ACER) Workshop on Fundamentals of Advanced Microgrid Design and Powering Critical Infrastructure. The May 2-3 event was hosted under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy (U.S. DoE), in partnership with the Organization of American States (OAS).
The workshop brought together technical experts and policymakers from the U.S. and the Caribbean, to discuss tools and methodologies that can be leveraged to support energy resilience for critical infrastructure, as well as, to facilitate robust dialogue on the issue among the rich pool of global and regional participants. Facilitators were drawn from the U.S. Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Organization of American States, Inter-American Development Bank and the CARICOM Secretariat.
Thorington described the workshop experience as “very interactive, rich and meaningful in the context of today’s climate and market realities”. Three key learning areas were “understanding of the current design and operation of the electric power grid and how to think about incorporating resilience into future planning, including applications of microgrids; assessing how to best deploy microgrids to meet specific resilience and/or reliability objectives and to optimize the microgrid design; and assessing the existing governance structure in their jurisdiction and be able to identify any existing policies or regulations that might limit their ability to pursue microgrid resilience solutions,” according to Thorington.
A site visit to a community resilience microgrid project provided a case study which illustrated the technical, social, and environmental value of energy resilient solutions. The case study featured a community solar project by a community seeking to meet its own energy needs, with feasibility research support and technical guidance from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez.
“This project illustrated the microgrid planning and execution process – from an examination of the community’s motivation, challenges encountered, research and planning needs, and the progress towards implementing these resilient energy solutions”, Thorington concluded.
CARILEC’s participation in the energy workshop was made possible with funding support from the CARICOM Secretariat, Climate-Resilient Energy Supplies for the Caribbean (Cli-RES) Project, which is financed through the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.