Toro Negro is an example of a community solar microgrid system. Toro Negro is a close-knit community of 62 people located in Cailes at the heart of Puerto Rico. When Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit in 2017, the Toro Negro community lost electricity and access to the main power grid the rest of Puerto Rico. The community went without power for 8 months until they started a grassroots effort to restore electricity.

With the help of non-profits Fundacion Comunitaria de Puerto Rico and SOMOS Solar, the Toro Negro community created 20 solar micro-grid systems for their 28 homes with another being built for their community center. This is the first third-party microgrid system in Puerto Rico, meaning it is owned or operated by a person(s) for the primary purpose of selling energy or grid services to customers. Each system powers 1-3 houses and uses rooftop photovoltaic panels and lead-acid batteries. 

(photos courtesy of Puerto Rico Science, Technology, and Research Trust)

We will help by evaluating this system and optimizing the batteries for a longer lifespan. Working with the Puerto Rico Science, Technology, and Research Trust, TECRE will also enable sensors for real-time monitoring and perform technical analysis to optimize the solar microgrids for the community’s needs. 

Toro Negro is one of many communities that need energy independence to have consistent and reliable access to electricity. Even today, Puerto Rican residents experience periodic blackouts due to the main electrical grid’s instability. Looking forward, we will use the data from this project to create resources for other communities to bring renewable energy to the entire island of Puerto Rico.

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