Cold storage firm, Isla Frio Refrigeration Corp., recently acquired a former PepsiCo bottling and distribution plant in Cidra, Puerto Rico. The 147,000 square-foot building on eight acres is being fully renovated to become a state-of-the-art frozen and refrigerated food warehouse, beginning with 50,000 square feet of frozen storage. The end goal of the $10 million project is to supply hurricane-resistant cold and dry storage space for the island while also providing thermal resilience with our Thermal Energy Storage (TES) technology for temperature-controlled goods in the event of a power outage.
Over the years, Puerto Rico has been hit exceptionally hard by natural disasters and other crises, and with an unreliable power grid, these events inflict significant impacts on supply chain efficiency and functionality. During Hurricane Maria in 2017 and the lengthy power loss that followed, our clients’ facilities on the island did not lose any food product, thanks to the TES systems they have installed.
The recent coronavirus pandemic has also amplified the growing need for more cold storage capacity and the island-wide shortage of warehouse space.
The recent acquisition of the PepsiCo plant provides an opportunity to build a highly efficient, energy-secure cold storage facility to support the recovering supply chain and electrical grid on the island.
The energy resources of this construction project are in alignment with the guiding principles of Puerto Rico’s overall grid modernization plan. Led by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the $20 billion plan will reconstruct the island’s grid, ultimately dividing it into eight self-sufficient mini-grids and providing residents with a safer, greener, and more resilient energy supply. In addition, the island has committed to generating 40% of its power from renewables by 2025 and 100% by 2050. These ambitious clean energy goals will drive the widespread adoption of renewable energy generation, which is complemented through the use of sustainable energy storage technologies like our TES systems.
“Puerto Rico has always been very important to Viking Cold Solutions. Our first warehouse installation was on this beautiful island, and it’s appropriate that our first new cold storage construction project be right here in Cidre, PR,” said Paul Robbins, Founder of Viking Cold Solutions.
The Isla Frio project, which began construction in June 2020, will be Viking Cold’s first system installation to be part of a facility’s original design and construction plan; previous installations have been facility retrofit projects. Phase One will be to install our technology and get the cold storage facility up and running by December. Phase Two will build out the rest of the site and may eventually include an onsite solar power resource to assist in powering the facility.
Once the plant is operational with TES technology, carbon emissions and energy use will be minimized, enhanced energy resilience and flexibility will be in place, and the facility will benefit from lower electricity costs – a significant value on an island with among the highest electricity costs in the U.S. The building itself is connected to a large diesel generator to provide backup power and is built at a high elevation, better protecting it from floods. During extended grid interruptions or power outages, the generator and its fuel can be conserved because the TES technology provides built-in temperature resilience to protect food up to several days without power.
We are proud to again be working with another Puerto Rico-based company, this time to help them build their cold storage resources in a sustainable way right from the start. By implementing our energy storage technology, Puerto Rico is one step closer to meeting its goal of generating 100% of its power from renewables by 2050.