Barbara Villarosa | August 26, 2019
After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, the island’s energy infrastructure was destroyed. The lack of electricity in rural areas for months following the storm contributed to thousands of post-hurricane deaths. As the island rebuilds, there are calls for replacing the fossil-fuel based centralized grid with renewable microgrids, making use of abundant solar, wind, and water resources. A new 1-credit course for fall 2019, Puerto Rico: Road Map to a Renewable Future, will explore the intricacies of such a seemingly obvious solution.
This new course is part of ND Energy’s Energy Studies Minor and will consist of eight weekly classes and a fall break immersion in Puerto Rico. Undergraduate students will learn about the opportunities and challenges that exist when communities attempt to reduce their carbon footprint while considering the economic, political, historical, and ethical issues unique to Puerto Rico.
“In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, it became clear to us that there is much to learn from this catastrophic event and possibly ways ND Energy could partner with and contribute to Puerto Rico’s renewable future,” explained Peter C. Burns, director of ND Energy, Henry Massman Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences, and academic advisor for the Energy Studies Minor. “Toward this end, we have developed a new course that will give students a unique learning experience and help shape their future as leaders in renewable energy, while advancing our mission of creating a more sustainable energy future for all and of being a force for good in the world,” he concluded.
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