How does a sustainable cogen plant help 'keeps the lights on' in Puerto Rico?
FEBRUARY 23, 2023 • Q&A
We spoke with three HPE subject matter experts to learn about the cogen plant’s inception and on-going impact in Puerto Rico
Between 1867 and 2022, 30 hurricanes made a direct impact on Puerto Rico, including nine major hurricanes above a category three.
Devastation on the island can be widespread and long-lasting. That’s why HPE built a cogeneration plant onsite in Aguadilla, providing continuous power fueled by locally sourced 100% renewable natural gas, allowing it to remain operational during extreme weather conditions.
We wanted to know more about the plant and why it is such an integral part of HPE's portfolio.
Carlos Rodriguez, Puerto Rico Manufacturing Operations Site Director & GM
What was the rationale behind building a cogeneration plant in Puerto Rico?
The HPE Aguadilla site has a long tradition regarding operational excellence and innovation, and one of the key elements for our culture and for our contribution to the company has been resiliency. Puerto Rico is located over the Caribbean tropical region, characterized by frequent rain and hurricane presence with some regularity. Therefore, throughout the years we have adopted three main principles to sustain operations: risk management, our employees’ security, and business continuity. The latest addition to this resiliency initiative was the concept of a cogeneration plant built for the site - a system fully independent from the Puerto Rico energy grid, which will not only secure the continuity for the HPE businesses in Aguadilla, but also reduce costs of operation and generate environmental benefits due to its 100% renewable gas operation and the contaminant gas emissions drastic reduction.
Talk to us a little bit about the culture at the PR site. How do you all embrace and demonstrate HPE culture and innovation?
HPE Aguadilla has a diverse and well-prepared group of people driven by continuous improvements and a transformation mentality. That’s one of the many reasons why, throughout our more than 42 years in Puerto Rico, we have been able to contribute to the company success by adopting innovative technologies and knowledge. Our people are always looking for new challenges and new ways to provide value to HPE, locally for the Aguadilla site and for HPE globally.
How does this facility support the HPE community, and most importantly, team members who also are affected by hurricanes?
Since the site remains operational during the island’s biggest storms, the site is utilized by team members and their families as a place to shelter from the elements. The cogeneration plant project is the latest evidence of the commitment from HPE to the Aguadilla site and its employees. It’s a unique project, not only at a company level but also in a region which represents that the future of HPE in Aguadilla is bright and that really makes our team members feel proud, satisfied, and supported.
Sandeep Gupta, Global Energy Program Lead
What technology was used in the formation of the cogeneration plant, and what is unique about it?
It is a high efficiency 3.96 MW combined heat and power (CHP) plant where all recoverable energy is re-utilized for the highest efficiency system possible, capable of being disconnected from the power grid while keeping strict power quality conditions.
A first of its kind for HPE, in 2022, the Combined Heat and Power Alliance awarded its 2022 CHP Project of the Year Award to the plant. The CHP system also helps HPE with achieving its carbon reduction goals.
Not only is the CHP plant more reliable, but it is over 50% more efficient at producing electricity when compared to the local power grid. This is achieved by utilizing waste heat in an absorption chiller to cool the site and by using the heat to convert the plants fuel source from liquefied natural gas to gas. Power quality is achieved with the use of an energy storage system, which also acts as back up power if an engine fails while in operation.
Tim Fosvik, VP, Specialty Manufacturing Operations
What is the bigger picture for HPE’s involvement in Puerto Rico, and what is the importance of this site in HPE’s portfolio?
HPE has invested in the infrastructure for our site in Puerto Rico to ensure that it can continue to provide high quality products to the company. Puerto Rico builds many of the electronic components used in the high-performance computing products that power the fastest and greenest super computers in the world and manages over $2B in software licensing. The people at the Aguadilla site now have a stable and environmentally sustainable source of power.
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