Could solar be the solution in Puerto Rico?
Last week, reports surfaced that Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Inc. and Chairman of Solar City, had a proposal for rebuilding the hurricane-damaged power grid of Puerto Rico. Since back-to-back Hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged the island, Puerto Ricans have been struggling to rebuild and regain utilities. As of October 7th, the governor’s office in Puerto Rico was reporting about 88% of households were still without power. Since the water system is linked with the power grid, many of these households are still without running water as well.
On Friday, Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló and Elon Musk had a phone conversation to discuss recovery efforts and the use of battery and solar power to rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid. Musk announced he was delaying other projects, like the new Tesla semi-truck, in order to reallocate resources in his Nevada GigaFactory to “increase battery production for Puerto Rico and other affected areas.”
The Tesla battery system is already improving energy infrastructures around the world, especially on islands separated from mainland power sources like American Samoa and Hawaii. On the Kaua’i Island of Hawaii, Tesla batteries are projected to cut fossil fuel demands in half as early as 2019.
The pre-hurricane power grid was already suffering due to extreme budget problems and an aging infrastructure. Governor Rosselló said in a statement, “because of the devastation, if there is a silver lining, we can start re-conceptualizing how we want to produce energy here in Puerto Rico and distribute it.”
If you would like to help the victims of Hurricane Maria, click here for a list of organizations accepting donations.
Sources: Business Insider, PBS, USA Today