DDEC issues request for proposals for ocean energy park in Yabucoa

By The Star Staff

Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC by its Spanish acronym) Secretary Manuel A. Laboy Rivera announced on Tuesday the start of the request for proposals process for companies that have prequalified to develop PROtech, a regional industrial park in the eastern municipality of Yabucoa that is expected to generate revenue through manufacturers working with seawater for ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC).

“Since 2017, we have worked with dedication and determination in the preparation of the PROtech master plan, which will be the starting point for investing in the efforts of industries related to the oceans and create the necessary technologies for the energy transition from conventional [sources] and fuels, to more responsible and sustainable energy alternatives,” Laboy Rivera said in a statement. “A few weeks ago, we shortlisted the companies: WSP USA Building, Inc./Marvel Marchand, Agru América, Energy Center Cajuhu LLC, through a Request for Qualifications process. This project will be a great opportunity for the development of multiple economic and research sectors.”

PROtech is a comprehensive and innovative project that will use the water from the Yabucoa coast and the energy it produces to develop multiple eco-friendly and scientific research projects from the southeast of Puerto Rico. Those interested in submitting their development plans must be highly qualified entities with experience and the ability to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the cutting-edge project, the statement said.

The DDEC secretary said Yabucoa was selected because it meets the necessary characteristics for developing a project of this scope. A similar existing project in Hawaii was used as a reference in the development of PROtech’s master plan. Based on this model, Technical Consulting, Estudios Técnicos, Makai Engineering and Integra carried out a feasibility study in Puerto Rico. It is estimated that some $300 million will be needed for construction.

It is not clear yet how the project will be funded. In 1981, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) already had a concrete plan to begin the construction of an OTEC plant in the island’s southeastern region. In December of that year, PREPA submitted a proposal to the U.S. Department of Energy to develop the first such plant in Puerto Rico. However, the PREPA project depended on federal funds, and once the White House administration changed in 1980, the new president, Ronald Reagan, dismissed the development of this type of energy and favored the development of nuclear and fossil fuel energy. The program was immediately shut down.

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