Could Puerto Rico go green in the wake of Hurricane Maria’s destruction? – The Energy Disruption Series



Aerial photo captured by The New York National Guard’s helicopter as they assist in the relief efforts in Puerto Hurricane in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Photo credit: New York National Guard via Flickr.


By Anders Lorenzen

After the US territory Puerto Rico, was devastated by the category 5 Hurricane Maria, the country seeks to rebuild, but could they go green?

The powerful and devastating hurricane destroyed large parts of the island, including completely ripping apart their electricity grid: initial reports estimate that it could take 6 months to rebuild. In the wake, huge power shortages have resulted in renewable energy emerging as key to the island’s current energy supply. The only people who still have electricity in Puerto Rico are those with solar panels. Prompting Governor Ricardo Rossello to challenge tech and green entrepreneur, Elon Musk, to fix their grid. On Twitter Musk was replying to a tweet asking if he could go and rebuild Puerto Rico’s electricity system with independent solar and battery systems. Musk replied stating they had already done so with many islands, but at the end of the day it was up to the Puerto Rican government. Rosello subsequently got in touch, tweeting: “Let’s talk. Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your Tesla Technologies? PR could be that flagship project.”

Elon Musk is involved in a similar project in South Australia, building an energy storage system which will see them storing solar energy, a source currently plagued by overcapacity issues in the region. After he was challenged by the South Australia governor, he took up the challenge.

Puerto Rico is just one area that has been severely impacted by an intense and extreme Atlantic Hurricane Season. A succession of powerful category 4 or 5 hurricanes, first Harvey, then Irma and Maria have devastated a series of Caribbean islands as well as parts of the US mainland.

As climate change-fueled extreme weather events are increasingly becoming more normal, renewables, energy storage, and other cleantech solutions are being talked about as solutions creating a more climate resilient grid, in a warming world.

Tesla recently rolled out what they call the Tesla Powerwall, a home battery energy storage system. This allows people to store the solar energy they generate and use it when the sun doesn’t shine and is increasingly becoming more popular.

It is also believed that Tesla has already sent out a number of battery systems to Puerto Rico to store energy from the island’s existing solar panels to help offset the energy shortage.


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