Puerto Rico has not yet recovered from the fury of Hurricane Maria that struck five months back and large portions of the island are still without electricity. To make matters worse, there was an explosion and fire in a substation that led to the blackout in the northern regions including parts of the capital, San Juan.

New York Times reports that the power grid in the island is outdated, and the Category 4 hurricane has devastated it. The authorities are carrying out repairs to take care of immediate requirements but it is necessary to have a permanent solution for the benefit of the residents.

Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc

The Electric Power Authority of Puerto Rico has admitted that some areas were without power after the explosion. Among them was San Juan, the capital. On a rough estimate, more than 400,000 customers are living in darkness for over five months after the storm destroyed most of the power distribution system, and resulted in damages of nearly $94 billion.

Officials said work was progressing on a war footing to restore electricity on priority. The explosion has revealed the poor condition of the power grid which existed even before Hurricane Maria happened. In fact, repairs are being carried out on equipment that is obsolete and should have been replaced long ago. However, they continue to be used because of the shortage of funds.

It seems blackouts are not new to the island. It faced frequent blackouts earlier, including one in September 2016 which was an island-wide outage.

Solar power is a solution

The electricity crisis in Puerto Rico could be met by introducing solar power. Hurricane Maria has shown the helplessness of the authorities and they must explore alternate sources to generate power.

One option is to harness solar energy because the island is gifted with plenty of sunlight.

In the opinion of Washington Examiner, while the residents are struggling to come to terms with blackouts, the energy industry and other stakeholders have plans to convert the disaster into an opportunity to recast the electricity grid.

The island nation has always been vulnerable to dangerous weather events that can be attributed to its location in the Caribbean. Therefore, solar energy could provide a solution.

Incidentally, Tesla installed solar field and batteries in a children’s hospital in San Juan. A German company is installing solar and storage systems at emergency centers. Researchers at the University of Washington’s Clean Energy Institute have built solar-powered refrigerators in a community center in a remote locality. The bottom line is to assign priority to solar power because it is readily available, environment-friendly and eliminates the use of fossil fuels.