Tesla’s Solar Roof tiles are out… and OMG

Tesla is bringing solar panels to Puerto Rico.
Image: Mark Lennihan/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Elon Musk announced Tesla would provide aid for Puerto Rico as the island recovers from Hurricane Maria. Now we’ve seen the how the company’s renewable energy systems are being implemented. 

The company’s Twitter account shared a set of new photos showing off a new solar panel installation at Hospital del Niño in Guaynabo, calling it the “first of many” solar and storage initiatives planned to bring power to the people of Puerto Rico. 

The photos show off rows of newly installed solar panels filling up a parking lot and one of Tesla’s Powerpack batteries, three of which were reportedly spotted earlier this month at the San Juan airport. Each Powerpack can can store up to 210 kWh of power, which in this case will be produced by the solar panels. 

CBS News correspondent David Begnaud, who is currently reporting from Puerto Rico, also tweeted out the images. He included some additional details about the power storage system. 

If Begnaud’s numbers are accurate, Tesla probably added another Powerpack to the system, along with a number of Powerwall batteries, which can store up to 13.5 kWh of power. The company reportedly sent “hundreds” of the batteries to the island at the start of recovery efforts, along with a team of installers to help put them in place.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rossello publicly corresponded on Twitter after a fan’s suggestion to discuss the company’s potential role in relief efforts. Rossello later met with Tesla VP of global infrastructure operations Cal Lankton to continue those discussions, which likely resulted in the hospital project and the “many” others currently in the works. 

These projects can be incredibly helpful for Puerto Rico — at press time, only 24.4 percent of the island has access to power. But it’s also important to note that Tesla only appears to be creating micro grids with the new installations, which are limited to managing the power of small closed systems, rather than larger networks. Tesla has installed power grid systems on Kauai in Hawaii and Ta’u in American Samoa, but never anywhere as large as Puerto Rico.     

We reached out to Tesla for some more details about the new installation, its funding, and the others the company has planned in Puerto Rico. We haven’t heard back, but will update the story if and when we do. 

The company that appears to be tasked with rebuilding Puerto Rico’s power grid at large is Whitefish Energy, which agreed to a $300 million contract with PREPA, the island’s power authority. That deal has been called into question because of the tiny Montana company’s alleged ties to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

No matter who does the work, however, Puerto Rico needs all the help it can to bring power back to the people. Bringing a renewable system to a children’s hospital is a good start.  

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Tags: elon-musk Energy power-grid puerto-rico science solar-energy solar-power tech tesla

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