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Introduction

The recently concluded Island Finance Forum 2022 brought together senior financiers, development partners and regulators to share and exchange experiences on sustainable and inclusive financial structures in island communities. The Forum aimed to highlight the unique financial challenges facing global island communities and solutions for sustainable economic recovery and inclusive growth in a post-pandemic world.

One of the highlights of the Forum was the session entitled “Puerto Rico at the Forefront of Caribbean Energy”, hosted by Invest Puerto Rico. The organisation seeks to craft Puerto Rico as a world-class business destination and is a public-private partnership created by law and incorporated as a non-profit.

The Island Finance Forum session was moderated by two members of the Invest Puerto Rico Team: Karen Mojica, the Business Development Director, and Sam Talman, the Business Development Manager.

speaker - Puerto Rico at the Forefront of Caribbean Energy

The speakers at the session were:

  • Alejandro Uriarte, President of the Board, Fundación Borincana
  • Carlos Varady, Business Development Director, CH4 Systems
  • Roberto Acosta, President, Accurate Solutions, Puerto Rico
  • Michael Grimm, Loan Program Officer, US Department of Energy

Puerto Rico: A Vibrant Energy Investment Landscape

Invest Puerto Rico was created as a private non-profit corporation that helps to generate jobs and economic development. A core mandate of Invest Puerto Rico is to facilitate the operations of investors and companies who choose to set up in Puerto Rico and to make their landing easier and more structured. This is achieved by connecting them with suppliers and key parties in the public and private sectors, and by linking them with relevant associations, municipalities and government agencies. Invest Puerto Rico distinguishes itself by providing advisory services free of charge.

IFF 2022 Session - Puerto Rico A Vibrant Energy Investment Landscape

Puerto Rico is a trailblazer of excellence across many manufacturing and services sectors. These include biosciences, advanced manufacturing, innovation & entrepreneurship, technology, and transportation & logistics. Here are just some examples of the island’s leadership in these sectors:

  • Puerto Rico is a national leader in biotechnology exports, and provides headquarters for 12 out of the top 20 grossing pharmaceutical companies in the world.
  • The island provides highly coveted expertise in the aerospace industry, as well as in electronics manufacturing.
  • There is a rapidly growing network of co-working spaces, incubators and startup capital partners.
  • Puerto Rico ranks #1 in Latin America and the Caribbean in relation to higher education and training in the technology sector.
  • As the busiest air- and seaport in the Caribbean, there has been a focus on crafting a sophisticated supply chain capacity for goods and materials.

(Image credit: Travel + Leisure)

Renewable energy plays a significant part of the island’s growing energy portfolio, with microgrid generation supplying the energy needs of many businesses and communities. There are also many options for commercial and industrial users, including wind, solar, energy storage, and hydrogen.

investment landscape in Puerto Rico

The investment landscape in Puerto Rico has also seen dramatic levels of improvement, with a startling 52% increase in new business creation occurring between 2016 and 2021. There are now over 30 investment funds on the island, and there has been a corresponding boost to the economy, with over 36,000 new jobs being created.

investment landscape in Puerto Rico - levels of improvement

There is also a dynamic and robust energy ecosystem that perfectly compliments and facilitates the current levels of economic growth, and Invest Puerto Rico has sought to optimise this by hosting advisory committees to provide unparalleled levels of expertise geared towards advancing key opportunities in Energy, Telecommunications, and Logistics.

The Energy Committee brings together the collective talent and vision of the private sector that seeks to develop the energy market in Puerto Rico.

Session Highlights

The speakers at the session outlined some of the projects that they are involved in that are instrumental in making Puerto Rico a regional beacon of innovative approaches to facilitating renewable energy financing.
Alejandro Uriante of Fundación Borincana outlined how his organisation focuses on building critical capacities that proactively develop a resilient, modern distributed energy infrastructure.

Their core programs are:

  • Puerto Rico Capital Access Program: This program provides financial education and assistance with the development of renewable energy projects
  • Solar Information Technology Training (Solar IT): This training is characterised by the inculcation of high-grade solar market skills through introducing design, sales, and management software
  • Grupo Analítica Solar Independiete (Grupo ASI): In this core program, assistance is provided by giving independent, data-driven analysis, which leads to market development.
Grupo ASI - core program

The next speaker was Carlos Varady of CH4 Group, who outlined some of the renewable energy projects that are up and running in Puerto Rico and across the Caribbean. CH4 is a group of companies that focus on EPC (Engineering, Procurement, Construction) project management, operations, and maintenance. Their work with renewables is structured around six main pillars, namely:

  • Reduction of emission
  • The use of high-end technology
  • Ensuring lower energy costs
  • Embracing a single source solution
  • The incorporation of national strategic energy plans
  • A commitment to sustainable community development programs

He also emphasised CH4 Group’s commitment to the sustainable development of local communities through enhancing women’s employment, and the transfer of technology to the local community.

The discussion was continued by Roberto Acosta, who provided insight into the history and success of Accurate Solutions, Puerto Rico’s first solar installation provider. The company provides products, solutions and consulting / design services on automation hardware and software, electrical systems, process control, industrial communications, machine design and fabrication, motion control, control panel manufacturing, and custom solutions to industrial needs. Some of the ways that Accurate Solutions help to improve consumers’ environmental footprint include:

  • Ensuring stable and predictable energy costs
  • Focusing on energy efficiency
  • The provision of electrical stability and power quality
control your energy budget

The final speaker to take the floor was Micheal Grimm, who, in his role as Loan Program Officer with the US Department of Energy, provided crucial insights into the support and guidance available to those seeking project financing. One of the most helpful analogies given was the “Bridge to Bankability”, which illustrated some of the important considerations when looking for financing. These included:

  • First commercial deployments
  • Follow-on commercial deployments
  • Commercial scale-up
  • Commercial debt market education
The Bridge to Bankability

Please click here to discover more about the insights and services offered by Invest Puerto Rico!

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