Over the last few weeks, Puerto Rico and surrounding island has been hit by two major hurricanes back to back. Puerto Rico’s lacking power infrastructure was completely destroyed. With only 9% of residents with power on the island of 3.2 million, Elon Musk might have a way to get more people back online and prevent another major blackout.
After the hurricane passed, Tesla began to quietly ship its Tesla Powerwalls to residents that already had solar arrays on their roof, to try and get more people back online. Now, Elon Musk wants to take the project to a much larger scale. Musk took the idea to Twitter saying:
Puerto Rican’s are already paying a hefty sum for electricity each month because of the cost to import fossil fuels to burn. The average monthly cost can reach as high as $250, and sometimes even higher. If Musk and his team could get enough resources, and technicians to install all of the components, the idea could very well work.
Musk and the Tesla team have completed similar projects for Kauai (video below), and for an island in the American Samoa. Both have gone well, however the number of people that need power in Puerto Rico is significantly higher than these smaller islands.
This plan would not be perfect, but it would still be a significantly better option. Large solar and wind arrays would still need power lines to carry and transfer generated power, but the number of lines needed throughout the island would be significantly less. Another issue that residents are facing, is a steep mark-up in installation prices on these Powerwalls. On Tesla’s Powerwall website, Tesla says an installation cost should range from $800-$2,000, and the Powerwall should cost $6,200. Civilians in Puerto Rico are reporting a total cost around $12,000 for the Powerwall and installation alone.
Puerto Rico’s has already responded saying:
Musk and Rossello have already got the ball rolling on a plan to implement the equipment needed, and Rossello has said the meeting showed some very promising progression.
There are still a lot of issues, including the outrageous costs for civilians that have already lost their life savings and possessions. Musk and Rossello seem to be on the same page, and that will need to continue to make this work. However, if the project and supplies can make it to the area, this could be one of the largest solar powered operations in the world.