By October 5, 2017 Read More →

Solar energy saved Puerto Rican farm from Hurricane Maria

solar energy

Hector Santiago’s greenhouse garden business is back in operation thanks to solar energy that powers his operation, while his competitors are still waiting to restart their diesel generators.  Reuters photo by Gabriel Stargardters.

Farmer invested $300,000 in solar energy six years ago

One Puerto Rican farmer who has managed to weather Hurricane Maria says he hopes Puerto Rico will begin using solar energy and other renewable energy sources to power its grid.

Reuters reports Hector Santiago’s solar-powered nursery is up and running while his competitors wait for diesel to fire up their generators that got knocked out during Hurricane Maria.

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Six years ago, Santiago invested $300,000 in 244 solar panels that now power his plant and poinsettia nursery located in the Barranquitas farming area. He sells flowers in Puerto Rico at stores, including Costco, and throughout the Caribbean.

“Everybody told me I was crazy because it was so expensive. Now I have power and they don‘t,” Santiago told Reuters.

Maria damaged Santiago’s operation considerably, but he was able to regroup quickly because he had electricity to pump water from his two wells.

Some Puerto Rican politicians agree with Santiago that the island should switch to renewable energy sources, but in the short term, it is unlikely as the rush is on to restore power as quickly as possible.

If governments are slow to adapt, Reuters reports more businesses and individuals on the island may turn to solar energy.  Henry Pichardo owns a solar installation company in Bayamón, southwest of the capital city San Juan.  He thinks his business might go up 20 per cent a year in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Pichardo says he has been flooded with enquiries since the storm struck.

“People are going to become more conscious of how they are living, and invest more in solar,” he said.

The British Virgin Islands was hard hit by Hurricane Irma. Richard Branson Twitter photo.

After Hurricane Irma devastated the British Virgin Islands, billionaire Richard Branson said he hopes to set up a fund that would help rebuild Caribbean countries that were virtually destroyed by Hurricane Irma.  He also pledged to help these nations shift from fossil fuel-dependent utilities to low-carbon renewable energy sources.

As for Santiago, he says even though about 25 per cent of his solar panels were damaged by flying debris during the storm, he has enough power to run his business.

He added he did not “have to worry about trees falling on the power lines.”


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