Using solar energy and storage to build a resilient Puerto Rico, powered by the sun

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Puerto Rico is rebuilding from the devastation of Hurricanes Maria and Irma, which left millions of people without power. More than two years later, the need for reliable electricity is greater than ever.

Solar energy and battery storage will help meet these energy needs and build a stronger, more resilient Puerto Rico.

Solar Saves Lives is an initiative led by The Solar Foundation to install solar and battery storage at health clinics, community centers, and other critical locations in Puerto Rico. We are proud to coordinate this effort with our partners including the Clinton Foundation, Direct Relief, the Hispanic Federation, The Rockefeller Foundation, and local solar companies and organizations in Puerto Rico.

The hurricanes struck Puerto Rico in 2017, but the recovery is ongoing. We are committed to being a part of this recovery, and we stand ready to respond to other disasters throughout the world as we face the impacts of climate change.

We need your help today through monetary donations, large and small, to benefit health clinics, community centers, and other critical priorities in Puerto Rico. From the solar industry, we are also seeking product donations to support these solar and storage installations.

Making Health Centers Resilient Through Solar

The hurricanes cut off electricity and disrupted access to health care for millions of people. For the future, it will be absolutely critical to ensure that health centers continue to serve their patients even if the power grid goes down.

Solar Saves Lives partners are meeting this need by installing solar and battery systems at community health clinics throughout Puerto Rico. These health centers are part of the Puerto Rico Primary Care Association Network, a nonprofit system of health centers that are dedicated to providing services to those without insurance or ability to pay. Many of these clinics are in remote areas and are the only source of health care for the surrounding population.

These installations are taking place in partnership with the Asociación de Salud Primaria de Puerto Rico, with installation by local solar installers and project management by the Clinton Climate Initiative. Funding comes from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, Direct Relief, Hispanic Federation, and individual contributions from the public.

Your generous donations help pay for the equipment, shipping, and installation. Clean, affordable solar energy will reduce their electricity bills and free up resources for other needs. Donate now to help install solar and storage at life-saving clinics in Puerto Rico. 

Spotlight: COSSMA Las Piedras

Our Solar Saves Lives initiative has completed a solar and battery storage installation at COSSMA Las Piedras, a nonprofit clinic in Puerto Rico! This clinic is part of the Federally Qualified Health Center network, which serves over 1,000,000 low income patients across its locations. The new system will provide backup for critical services such as medicine storage, vaccines, emergency lights, and the pharmacy computer and laboratory.  After the 4,000 excess deaths in Puerto Rico due to lack of access to medical care and electricity after Hurricane Maria, these installations are of critical importance. The installation includes a 187 kW solar system and a 456 kWh Tesla Powerpack battery.

Thanks to our funders at The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, as well as the Hispanic Federation, Clinton Climate Initiative, and the installer ISO Solar Puerto Rico for making this possible. We are committed to replicating this success story at many other medical centers in Puerto Rico.    

Spotlight: Loiza, Puerto Rico

Located in the northeast corner of Puerto Rico, the Concilio de Salud Integral de Loiza serves a historically under-resourced population that includes a large percentage of Afro-Puerto Ricans. The clinic provides essential medical services such as pre-natal care, immunizations, pediatrics, and dental. The vast majority of patients do not use private health insurance.

Early this year, Solar Saves Lives partners completed the installation of a 270 kW solar system and a 475 kWh battery. In a state-of-the-art microgrid arrangement, a special controller will calibrate the system to draw electricity from the battery or a separate generator, as needed, to ensure an uninterrupted supply of power. During any disruption to the power grid, the system will power vital services including the emergency room, pharmacy, medication storage and lighting.  Meanwhile, when the power is on, the solar microgrid will be able to generate enough electricity to save about $7,000 per month on their electricity bills. That is well over $2 million in savings over the expected lifetime of the project, helping the clinic achieve its mission to promote health and well being in the communities it serves.

Funding was provided by the Hispanic Federation, and by The Solar Foundation through a grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. The installation was project managed by the Clinton Climate Initiative and installed by EP Energy, with operations and maintenance to be carried out by AZ Engineering, both local solar engineering companies.

Spotlight: Barceloneta, Puerto Rico

In the summer of 2019, we worked with our partners to complete a 263 KW solar installation on the rooftop of the Atlantic Medical Center in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico, including 144 kWh in battery storage. As the main health clinic for this municipality on the northern coast of the island, the clinic now serves over 14,000 unique patients per year. During Hurricane Maria, the hospital lost power for 33 days and relied on a diesel generator to operate. The aftermath of the clinic has prompted the clinic to pursue additional measures to increase the facility’s resilience.

The new solar and battery system has ensured the clinic will continue to provide essential health services when the power grid goes down again. On top of that, it’s saving the clinic an average of $4,500 per month in energy costs. “We needed to ensure continuity of care for our patients,” says Leida Nazario, the clinic’s executive director. “This system enabled that.”

Recently, this system was tested during a series of earthquakes in late December and early January, which once again cut off power throughout the island. With the help of the solar panels and battery, the clinic was able to keep the lights on and provide care without interruption.

Watch the Video

Other Completed Solar Installations

Additional clinics where we have completed installations include:

Profamilias Clinica Celestina Zalduondo, San Juan: A 25 kW solar PV system and 40 kWh battery. Funded by Direct Relief.
Migrant Health Center Western Region, Las Marías: A 34.7 kW solar PV system and 40 kWh battery. Funded by Direct Relief.

Mapping Our Progress

Our partners at Direct Relief created this interactive map of completed and pending solar and storage projects in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria. Check out the map to find all the health clinics where Solar Saves Projects are underway!



Where Will My Donation Go?

Contributions are tax-deductible and are welcome from individuals, businesses, and nonprofit organizations large and small. Your contributions will fund the purchase of solar and battery storage equipment, pay for shipping, hire qualified solar installers, and cover other important programmatic costs. We work with a carefully vetted selection of local solar companies in Puerto Rico to ensure proper installation and service so these systems will last well beyond the next storm.

Many individuals have been inspired to launch fundraising events and online giving campaigns to provide a lump sum donation to Solar Saves Lives. Companies can also launch a corporate matching campaign or employee giving campaign. If you think your community or company might be interested, contact us today.

Donations are being collected by The Solar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Solar Saves Lives is part of The Solar Foundation’s larger initiative to build resilient communities, harnessing the power of solar and solar + storage technologies. Learn more about The Solar Foundation.

Special thanks to supporters in Connecticut who held an amazing fundraiser in November 2018 that raised over $7,000 to support an upcoming installation at a health clinic in Orocovis, Puerto Rico! Organizers included the ICC Environmental Action Committee, the Interreligious Eco Justice Network, The Green Bank, Solar for All, Hoffman Auto Group, CT Puerto Rican Agenda, and Claro Inc.

Product Donations

We welcome product donations of solar and storage equipment, including:

  • Portable solar equipment, such as lanterns and cell chargers.
  • Containerized or cabinetized generators, such as solar refrigeration units, solar pumping units, and solar water purification units.
  • Components for system installations including modules, inverters, battery banks, and charge controllers.
  • Any other solar and storage equipment you are able to provide.

If your company might be interested in making a product donation, contact The Solar Foundation and we will get back to you promptly to discuss how your donation might fit our needs.

Thanks to Our Supporters

Solar Saves Lives thanks the supporting organizations and individuals who are expanding and deepening the impact of our work in Puerto Rico. Solar Saves Lives supporters include:

EnergyBin, a wholesale solar B2B exchange. EnergyBin is offering a one-month complimentary membership to both members and non-members that donate to Solar Saves Lives. EnergyBin will donate 10% of any new paying membership that is referred by The Solar Foundation. Contact us for more information.

The Solar Foundation is proud to partner with Energise Puerto Rico to deliver portable power stations to first-response teams and high-risk families in low-income barrios and mountain regions. Each power station bundle will consist of a high-capacity portable battery and mobile solar panel. Visit Energise Puerto Rico to learn more or donate directly to this project.

Building Puerto Rico’s Solar Workforce

Solar energy is expanding rapidly in Puerto Rico, opening up a need for more solar workers. The Solar Foundation leads the new Puerto Rican Solar Business Accelerator in partnership with Pathstone Corporation, Inc. and the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez. This program will expand and strengthen the Puerto Rican solar industry and spur the development of a highly qualified workforce. The Solar Foundation and partners will work collaboratively with Puerto Rican solar companies to improve financing for solar projects and support a robust workforce pipeline. The team will also develop two solar and storage microgrid development pilots.

In 2019, The Solar Foundation led a solar training program with funding from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and in partnership with the municipality of San Juan and the Asociación de Contratistas y Consultores de Energía Renovable de Puerto Rico (ACONER). The program provided trainees with 16 hours of classroom training and four hours of hands-on lab training.