Elon Musk offers to rebuild Puerto Rico's power grid using solar

Jon Howard
October 7, 2017

In Hurricane Maria's wake, Tesla is reportedly sending hundreds of its Powerwall battery systems to Puerto Rico and is working with local organizations to identify locations for installation.

The devices provide a short term fix to buildings with solar panel access by allowing them to store and use power in a distributed fashion. By way of solar power and batteries.

The initiative would likely involve a large-scale solar-powered electricity grid, similar to another Tesla solar network that has been built to power the islands of Ta'u in Samoa as well as Kauai in Hawaii.

The conversation began on Thursday when a social media user asked Musk whether his auto, energy and solar panel company could rebuild Puerto Rico's electric grid.

"Such a decision would be in the hands of the Puerto Rican Government, PUC, any commercial stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of PR".

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Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello responded early Friday saying: "Let's talk today; I will be in touch".

Will all this turn Puerto Rico into a lab for sustainable energy?

The report adds that Miller went on to say that you can do a coast to coast (Los Angeles to New York City) highway drive with current level two or level three technology, so claims by Tesla that it can achieve such a feat with its vehicles doesn't necessarily mean it has level five technology. In July, he promised to deliver the world's largest lithium ion battery to help communities in South Australia that have been suffered from power shortages. Musk responded that Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) had already done so for other small islands around the world. Renewable energy sources provided a mere 2 percent of Puerto Rico's power.

Focusing on the Tesla system's lack of redundancies - backup sensors to take over in case one malfunctions and mis-reads traffic - Miller said: "Do you really want to trust one sensor measuring the speed of a vehicle coming into an intersection before you pull out?"

We have contacted Tesla for a comment and will update this story once we receive a reply. And given estimates that restoring the grid could take up to six months (not including Tesla's involvement), one is left wondering if the cost, complexity, and longevity issues don't make the suggestions rather more bluster than substance.

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