The power grid in Puerto Rico has suffered a lot of damage from Hurricane Maria. The storm was devastating, and the effects on the electricity grid can be seen from space.
Without power, communication has been difficult, hindering attempts to get aid to those who need it. Nearly three weeks later, the vast majority of the island is still without power. Rebuilding the power grid will be a difficult task, no matter how they decide to do it.
— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) September 25, 2017
Now offering his assistance, tech giant Elon Musk has suggested he could rebuild the Puerto Rico power grid using renewable energy. In no time at all, the Puerto Rico government has taken him up on his offer, and are talking to him about how that would work.
It all started when Twitter user Scott Stapf shared an article suggesting now is the time for Puerto Rico to rethink how it gets its electricity, and asked Musk if he could help the island using his solar system.
— Scott Stapf (@stapf) October 5, 2017
Elon Musk responded offering his services if the Puerto Rican Government wanted them.
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
The Governor of Puerto Rico responded, asking to talk to Mr Musk about his offer.
— Ricardo Rossello (@ricardorossello) October 6, 2017
Elon Musk’s firm SolarCity last year powered a small island almost entirely using solar power. The island of Ta‘ū and its 600 residents have nearly 100 percent of their energy supplied by a solar power plant consisting of 5,328 solar panels, hooked up to a microgrid of battery storage systems. The batteries there can be used to store energy for up to three days without Sun.
Puerto Rico is a far bigger challenge, with over 3.4 million residents, but Musk’s firm has been working on much more ambitious ways to store energy, and Musk himself said there is no scalability limit to the system. Currently, his firm is half way through building the world’s biggest battery in Australia, which will be used to power around 30,000 homes.
If Elon Musk were to try to power Puerto Rico using renewable energy, it would be an extremely ambitious project, but one that appears to have the support of the government there, as well as people living on the island.