The world saw so many natural disasters lately, but one is so hard to forget, because of its devastating consequences. Hurricane Maria made direct landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, as a Category 4 storm and changed many people’s lives. Even nowadays, many remain with no water to drink, bathe, and no power as well. There was little hope when the auto company Tesla tried to use its solar panels and batteries to restore electricity at San Juan’s Hospital del Niño (Children’s Hospital).
This was the first of many solar+battery Tesla projects, and it was successful. Tesla’s founder Elon Musk announced its success less than three weeks. It happened after Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rossello tweeted on Oct. 6, “Great initial conversation with @elonmusk tonight. Teams are now talking; exploring opportunities.”
First, it all started with a tweet.
“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.”
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
Next, Musk said he had a plan to reroute Tesla resources into battery production for Puerto Rico:
Tesla Semi unveil now Nov 16. Diverting resources to fix Model 3 bottlenecks & increase battery production for Puerto Rico & other affected areas.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 6, 2017
Here is how the hospital project looks.
Musk wrote on Instagram:
“Hospital del Niño (Children’s Hospital) is the first of many solar+battery Tesla projects going live in Puerto Rico. Glad to help support the recovery. Congrats to the Tesla team for working 24/7 to make this happen as fast as possible.”
Interestingly, Tesla actually donated the batteries and solar panels. After the emergency situation ends, the hospital can sign a contract to keep them permanently. This is great news for the hospital’s 3,000 patients, as well as 35 chronically sick children who live there.
As of now, the Electric Power Authority estimates that only a mere 25% of Puerto Rico’s power is functioning. The power grid will probably take months to rebuild and will cost around $5 billion.
— Tesla (@Tesla) October 24, 2017
Tesla is not the only company who helped Puerto Rico. Google also deployed balloons through Alphabet to create a portable phone network in the wake of the destruction. Puerto Ricans can at least access phone lines and some internet even though the power grid is terribly slow.