Why diesel beats solar for disaster recovery in places like Puerto Rico

APR Energy's GE TM2500 Gen 8 mobile gas turbines in Puerto Rico

APR Energy’s GE TM2500 Gen 8 mobile gas turbines in Puerto Rico

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Call it the Ikea mindset.

On populated islands, space is at a premium, just like those stereotypical Swedish kitchens you see when you stroll through your local assemble-it-yourself retailer.

That space restriction is a major reason fossil fuels remain a better power-generation option than renewables on populated islands that have just experienced a natural disaster—like Puerto RIco.

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At least, that’s the argument made by Navigant Research in a recent blog post that uses the recent post-hurricane rebuilding effort in the U.S. island territory as an example of where and why diesel generators come out on top.

Navigant focuses on one metric in particular—energy density, specifically the “daily energy output per acre of plant area”—to compare different types of electricity generation.

In Puerto Rico, a pair of 25-megawatt diesel-fired turbines were installed by APR Energy after the hurricane to help bring power to the country’s grid again.