Renewable Energy Access and Resilience in Urban Developing Areas: Distributed Solar Networks and Peer-to-Peer Energy Trading in Puerto Rico

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John Wargo
Essay Abstract: 
The argument will first address the importance of electricity access. The relationship between energy source and environmental consequences such as air pollution is then examined as a determining factor to push for the use of solar energy. The history of hurricane impact and response in Puerto Rico is introduced and reveals the urgent necessity for a paradigm shift in the island’s energy sources. Next, Puerto Rico's electricity grid is analyzed and the health co-benefits and consequences of energy source and therefore pollution exposure is analyzed. Then blockchain technology is described in depth, which leads into comparative analysis of centralized, decentralized, and distributed energy systems. Peer-to-peer energy trading reveals the value added when systems operate on blockchains, as demonstrated through examples of successful projects. After those sections, the analysis and results of research are brought forth by discussing the factors to build distributed solar networks in Puerto Rico. This thesis ends with analysis of a financial model for developing a distributed energy installation and discusses the overall impact on Puerto Rico. Methods for research include analysis of U.S. government-provided raw data and personal interviews conducted with solar developers in Puerto Rico. The analysis presented leads to the claim that building a network of distributed solar energy through residential and school rooftops in Puerto Rico is the best post-hurricane action to be taken in order to improve energy reliability, affordability, access, and resilience to future disasters and risks.