Puerto Rico Convention Center Runs Its Building off the Grid

04/23/2018 | By Valerie Dennis Craven

The Puerto Rico Convention Center has about 20,000 solar panels on building and parking structures. A private investment of $26 million covered the installation costs. On a sunny day, the panels can run the convention center with solar power, off the grid.

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Solar panel market size is in a significant period of growth, with Global Market Insights reporting that it will rise from $65 billion in 2015 to more than $140 billion by 2023. One place investing heavily in a solar power system is the Puerto Rico Convention Center.

The convention center is able to focus on energy conservation by using solar power its building. Installed about four years ago, there are about 20,000 solar panels on parking and building structures.

On a sunny day – of which there are many in the tropical island – the solar panels not only produce enough energy for the convention center through solar power fully off the grid but can also produce excess consumption that’s sold to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

This is the largest solar energy project in Puerto Rico, and is being used as a model for both the island and the Caribbean, notes Jorge Perez, General Manager at the Puerto Rico Convention Center.

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Continuous Solar Power System

For building owners and those looking to host occupants and events, there won’t be an interruption in energy service.

The building’s fully powered so, on a sunny day, all the power comes from solar panels. On a rainy or cloudy day, Perez notes, the building goes from solar power to back on the grid. And there are power generators that power all the building, he assures.

Puerto Rico Solar Power

Being off the grid doesn’t slow any of the events at the Puerto Rico Convention Center. Attendees might not even notice – save for the solar panels themselves – where their energy is coming from.

The building can accommodate small meetings of 50 up to 20,000 people. “We have capacities to convert our exhibit floor into EDM concerts and have a gala at our bar room for 5,000 to 6,000 people, so we are a very flexible building,” Perez says.

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This project demonstrates the convention center’s commitment to sustainability and green efforts.

Building owners looking to incorporate solar panels into their structures can learn from the Puerto Rico power project.

Tips for Going Off the Grid:

  • Get up and running easily: The Puerto Rico project took four months to install solar power, but “once they’re installed, it’s basically plug and play,” Perez says. “Nobody has to be turning off or on switches.”
  • Keep them maintained: The Puerto Rico Convention Center has a company that’s continuously monitoring the panels and their solar power output. This includes cleaning them on a daily basis, making sure they are running and handling any preventative maintenance necessary.

Perez calls the convention center energy conservation efforts a “novel project” for the island. It’s the biggest project so far in Puerto Rico, he says. “It’s being used as a model for other projects.”


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