The power grid of Puerto Rico was essentially demolished last month as a result of Hurricane Maria. The Category 4 storm left millions without electricity. And, according to a website maintained by the office of Governor Ricardo Rossello, over 80 percent of the island’s residents are still without power. Could solar energy be the key to rebuilding Puerto Rico’s power grid?
Elon Musk, co-founder, CEO and product architect at Tesla, tweeted in early October that his team wanted to get involved by rebuilding Puerto Rico’s system with the help of batteries and solar energy. Governor Rossello was quick to respond and to welcome Musk’s support.
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
Solar Energy Is on the Rise
The use of wind and solar energy is growing much faster than the use of fossil fuels. Clean energy capacity in the U.S. tripled from 2008 to 2015, for example. Many countries around the world now rely on solar energy to meet their demands. As a result, jobs in solar energy are growing. In fact, data from earlier this year indicates that solar-energy jobs are growing 12 times faster than the U.S. economy.
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The Trump administration has laid out An America First Energy Plan which favors “freeing us from a dependence on foreign oil” and from “burdensome regulations on our energy industry.” The plan fails to make mention of either wind or solar energy. But, some say it’s wise to invest in these kinds of energy solutions.
“Our findings would lead us to believe that the right place to invest dollars are in renewable energy rather than fossil fuels,” Liz Delaney, program director of EDF Climate Corp, told Business Insider. “These jobs are widely geographically distributed, they’re high paying, they apply to both manufacturing and professional workers, and there are a lot of them.”
Help From Tesla Has Started to Arrive
Musk and Governor Rossello spoke shortly after their twitter exchange to discuss how the Tesla could help rebuild the power grid destroyed by Hurricane Maria. And, this weekend, Powerpacks began to arrive in Puerto Rico. A few hundred have already been shipped, and more are on their way.
These Powerpacks have the capacity to bring large parts of the grid back online through combining the energy storage systems with solar farms and other renewable energy sources. The first focus will be on helping hospitals and medical centers to get stable power. But, Tesla is also working toward longer term solutions that will rebuild a more resilient grid with solar power and energy storage.
On an even larger scale, Tesla’s work in Puerto Rico could eventually serve as a study in constructing a clean energy grid from the ground up. There’s no telling how this information could assist other areas in the years to come.
Tell Us What You Think
Do you think solar energy should be utilized to rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.