Class Year

2019

Residential College

Grace Hopper College

Department

Environmental Studies

Advisor

John Wargo

Abstract

This senior essay under the Environmental Studies major at Yale University explores the environmental and social benefits of applying innovative technology to the energy sector. Three types of energy networks are analyzed, focusing on the use of distributed energy and peer to peer energy trading on a blockchain platform. The benefits of distributed renewable energy networks can most strongly be applied to locations in need of more reliable, resilient, and cost-effective electricity. Puerto Rico is a case study. Methods include analysis of U.S. Energy Information Administration and Census Bureau data as well as personal interviews with Puerto Rican energy developers. A financial model was created to tailor a power-purchase-agreement format to residential solar in order to develop an alternative funding method to the current grid price of electricity of 22.77 cents per kWh in Puerto Rico. The hurricanes of 2017 damaged the entire island, and every problem was exacerbated by the prolonged and total lack of power. Building a network of distributed solar energy through residential and school rooftops in Puerto Rico is argued in this thesis to be the best post-hurricane action to take in order to improve energy reliability, affordability, access, and resilience to future disasters and risks.

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