BY BROOKLYN PINHEIRO
Immediately after the category 4 hurricane whipped out power on the island of Puerto Rico on September 20th Tesla stepped in to help.
Originally the company sent Powerwall battery systems that can be paired with the country’s intact solar panels to provide energy to high-priority sites such as hospitals. Company employees were also on the ground helping to restore power. Despite this initial step, two weeks after the storm took place, 85 per cent of the country was still left without power, leaving the company’s CEO Elon Musk to continue his work.
In a call to action on Twitter, Elon Musk and Puerto Rico Governor, Ricardo Rossello, opened up a dialog about the company’s future role in returning power to the people devastated by hurricane Maria.
The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too. Such a decision would be in the hands of the PR govt, PUC, any commercial stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of PR.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 5, 2017
— Ricardo Rossello (@ricardorossello) October 6, 2017
After meetings took place, Tesla then refocused company efforts to aid Puerto Rico and has now reportedly shipped Powerpacks to the country. Powerpacks batteries have 16 times the capacity of Powerwall cells, meaning they can store up to 210 kWh of power. They are alike to Tesla’s initial aid in that they use solar power to harness the energy, which is then stored and distributed.
The company has used these Powerpack batteries to build micro grids on other islands before. On Kauai, a Hawaiian Island, Tesla’s micro grid reduces dependence on fossil fuels by 1.6 million gallons a year. Ta’u, an island in American Samoa runs on 100 per cent clean energy thanks to a Tesla powered grid.
The idea is to create one of these micro grids in Puerto Rico to restore power to residents until the main power system is restored, which officials say can take up to six months.
Rossello has set a goal of restoring 95 per cent of the power grid by December 15th and Tesla’s work would have an impact on that. It also appears that Musk has a passion for helping Puerto Rico as he has personally donated $250, 000 to the relief. Hopefully this initial action is indicative of the future of Tesla’s involvement in bringing power back to the 3.4 million residents.