Natural disasters create destruction and suffering, but they also open doors to opportunity. The tsunami that destroyed the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan changed the mentality of this country and stopped relying on nuclear energy to generate electricity. The devastation of Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands this year destroyed their power grids. While this has created great hardship for residents, it has opened the door for renewable energy companies like Tesla who can and should be a part of the rebuilding process.
Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands have the opportunity to adopt new technologies.
On St. Johns Island, one of the US Virgin Islands, a resident used the debris strewn on the ground to write “Send Tesla” on the lawn next to his ruined house. Francis O’Sullivan, research director for the MIT Energy Initiative, has his own take on the subject. “I think entities like Tesla will be part of this story. They are building a technological package which will be very necessary ”.
According to USA today, the folks at Tesla are already talking about how the company could get more deeply involved in rebuilding Puerto Rico’s grid, as well as the power systems of other Caribbean islands. Tesla has already started shipping hundreds of its Powerwall residential batteries to Puerto Rico, so more storage is being considered to create a series of micro-grids across the island.
Time for the microarray solution.
This doesn’t mean that solar panels can’t be damaged by storms like Hurricane Irma and Maria. But a power supply structure made up of micro-grids is much more resistant than the conventional electricity grid. It’s one of the reasons Tesla is rushing to complete the world’s largest battery storage facility in Australia, where monstrous storms knocked down the pylons connecting Melbourne and Adelaide earlier this year. He also has experience powering entire islands primarily with renewable energy, albeit on a smaller scale than Puerto Rico.
Politics and predators in Puerto Rico.
Obstacles to Puerto Rico and its neighbors’ transition to renewables can be both political and technical. The island’s utility company owes Wall Street $ 9 billion and the island has a total debt of $ 123 billion, including $ 74 billion in bonds which are now the subject of litigation in court bankruptcy.
How will Tesla and Musk react?
Puerto Rico is a tangle of very complex issues that are difficult to solve. It seems like a perfect opportunity for Elon Musk to step in, cut the Gordian knot and come up with a solution that would make Puerto Rico a shining example in the world of renewables. After all, for someone who intends to build colonies on Mars in the next 20 years, solving Puerto Rico’s electrical problems should be a snap.
Is this the perfect storm for Musk?