In 2021, the electricity landscape in Puerto Rico was heavily dependent on fossil sources, providing over 97% of the island's total power consumption. The contribution of low-carbon forms of energy to Puerto Rico's power matrix was minimal at close to none, amounting to just 2.8% of the total. Of this small percentage, solar energy alone contributed just under 1.5%, indicating that other forms of clean energy like nuclear or wind had almost no presence in Puerto Rico's electricity consumption.
To increase low-carbon electricity generation, Puerto Rico can observe and take cues from countries that have successfully integrated considerable amounts of clean energy into their power grids. France and Slovakia, for instance, generate more than half of their electricity from nuclear energy. Denmark and Uruguay have wind energy levels at around 40%. Deploying more nuclear, wind and solar power could help Puerto Rico reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Geographical and demographic similarities also offer valuable lessons. Like Puerto Rico, countries such as Portugal, Spain, and Greece have access to ample sunlight and wind, and they generate roughly a fifth to a quarter of their power from wind and solar sources, showing that this level of integration is achievable.
The history of low-carbon electricity in Puerto Rico has been fairly timid and inconsistent. Hydro energy made a minor entry in the late 90s, contributing a negligible increase of 0.1 TWh in 1996 and 1999, but has since oscillated between minor decreases and stagnation. In the late 2000s, wind and solar emerged tentatively – wind in 2013 with an increment of 0.2 TWh, and solar in 2015 with no initial change, indicating a more recent attempt to diversify electricity sources. Since their introduction, both wind and solar displays stagnant growth, with only minor annual increases, notably in 2019. These minimal shifts demonstrate a long-standing reluctance to move away from fossil fuels, underscoring the need for the island to actively learn from others and embrace clean, low-carbon technologies.