The Technology and Education Center for Renewable Energy provides alternative energy solutions through experiential education. Student interns develop quotes and designs for residential and business solar systems as a component of their training. Quotes provided by system installers can be evaluated using TECRE quotes and designs. TECRE is studying the use of hybrid vehicle and and LiFeO4 electric vehicle batteries for energy storage. The image shows a mini house demonstration using using Toyota modules for energy storage.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria motivated the development of TECRE. My family was home in Puerto Rico for both Irma and Maria in 2017. In between Irma and Maria, my wife had a stroke. We learned first-hand what it is like to have a medical emergency during a period where medical services are largely curtailed. Over 4,000 Puerto Ricans succumbed to after-effects of Irma and Maria. More recently, hurricane Fiona damaged about half the transmission lines and distribution sites throughout Puerto Rico.
Today, the price of electricity in Puerto Rico is 30 cents/kWh. The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 is a contributing factor. This act requires that goods shipped between American ports be transported by ships built in the United States, and crewed by U.S. citizens. Foreign ships with fuel must disembark in the mainland and change crews. This act hampers development of an equitable grid in Puerto Rico.
Expensive, unreliable electricity is intolerable in a U.S. territory where 40% live below the poverty line and the median household income is $21,000 per year. The development of stable and equitable energy distribution, requires considerations that extend beyond those of science and engineering. The politics and culture of Puerto Rico, codified in part by principals that never visited the island, hamper appropriate grid development. An understanding of the history of power distribution, starting with the first electric grid power in Villlalba, up to the present PREPA/Luma relationship is necessary for a grass roots adoption of clean energy strategies.
The Adopt a Micro-grid project is a component of experiential education. Supervised learning provides opportunities for students to design and implement micro-grids for rural residents with low incomes. These low cost micro-grids are enabled by donations to TECRE.
Second, we seek to provide green-energy education through hands-on activities and demonstrations at our proposed educational facilities and through co-ops and internships supporting Adopt a Micro-grid projects.