DEPCOM builds Puerto Rico’s largest solar, energy storage system

DEPCOM Power Puerto Rico Solar Project

DEPCOM Power has inaugurated Ciro One, Puerto Rico’s largest solar and battery energy storage system (BESS).

As an integrated provider engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) and operations and maintenance (O&M) services for the utility-scale solar and energy storage markets, DEPCOM conceptualized, procured and managed the installation of the 90 MWac photovoltaic (PV) and 51.5 MW BESS facilities alongside developer partner Ciro Energy Group, and local subcontractor Lord Construction Inc.

The system, which was inaugurated by local government and community representatives on Nov. 1 at the project site in Salinas, Puerto Rico, is expected to begin operation end of 2024. DEPCOM will also operate and maintain the hybrid system for a five-year period.

“Ciro One illustrates DEPCOM’s strengths in merging large-scale solar deployment, advanced BESS expertise and integrated EPC and O&M services, building critical infrastructure for the community’s energy future,” said DEPCOM CEO Johnnie Taul.  

Its unique technology and design make Ciro One the first of its kind. The BESS integrates a lithium-titanate oxide (LTO) battery, which delivers higher cycling power and lower degradation than more commonly used lithium iron phosphate technology (LFP). Using LTO ensures a warranted system life to full 25 years, compared to only 20 years for LFP. The PV system, designed to withstand hurricane-force winds, features a lower panel tilt angle and east/west row orientation. The inverter technology includes salt fog filters to mitigate the effects of salinity on the system’s power electronics.

Because of the island’s size and limited available land, solar systems that blend energy production with agricultural needs are preferred. As a pilot site for agrovoltaics, Ciro One will use one of the PV arrays for demonstration and scalability for future implementation, and use sheep to manage fast growing vegetation. Additionally, DEPCOM has developed an innovative solution to keep the system safe in the event the grid goes down, islanding the BESS by connecting it to a PV array for power supply instead of using costly and resource intensive diesel generators.

“Isolated from typical supply lines, Puerto Rico needs solutions that reduce electricity costs, improve grid reliability, and accelerate renewable energy deployment,” said DEPCOM director of energy storage Nadja Gocek. “Our mutually beneficial cooperation with local Puerto Rico experts balances long-term reliability and performance with land optimization to create a uniquely symbiotic solution that the community needs.”

The project, which will generate enough energy to power 60,000 typical Puerto Rican homes, brings substantial economic and environmental benefits. Not only did it create 370 direct jobs, but at construction’s peak there were 1,000 indirect jobs connected to the project. Ciro One marks a major step toward meeting Puerto Rico’s mandate to generate 100% of its electricity needs with renewable resources by 2050.

“This project will strengthen our island’s energy network at a scale that gets us closer to meeting our renewable goals,” says Ciro Energy Group president Mario Tomasini. “At the same time, we are maximizing the site’s potential through a multi-use approach, integrating vital agriculture with solar power generation.”

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