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Tesla Moves Quickly to Help With Puerto Rico Recovery

By Travis Hoium - Oct 25, 2017 at 6:32PM

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Elon Musk is already pushing Puerto Rico to think about solar and energy storage in a new way.

No matter what you think of Tesla's (TSLA -0.32%) stock, or Elon Musk as a leader, there's no denying that he's trying to push the world forward faster than anyone else. He's almost single-handedly forced automakers to electrify their fleets, and utilities to think twice about energy storage.

Tesla's biggest impact in 2017 may be its rapid response to the energy crisis in Puerto Rico. Only a few weeks after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria, Tesla electrified a solar-plus storage facility that will power Hospital del Nino, which has been without power since September 20. The rapid response is emblematic of Tesla's fast-moving approach to high-profile energy challenges, and it could help reshape Puerto Rico's future. 

Solar system on a rooftop on a sunny day.

Image source: Getty Images.

Tesla's relief effort goes live

In a tweet on Tuesday, Tesla announced that the solar-plus storage system at Hospital del Nino is up and running. By the look of it, this is a temporary installation on the ground of a parking lot, making it a quick install for Tesla. The system you see below uses the ZS Peak commercial solar design that came from SolarCity's operation.

The announcement that this is the "first of many" projects is also notable. Musk has talked with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello about bringing solar and energy storage to the island, and clearly, the installations are progressing very quickly. This could be a significant source of solar and storage demand in 2017 and 2018. 

The renewable-energy industry out in force

Tesla's not the only company quickly deploying resources in Puerto Rico. Solar installer Sunnova has been talking about building projects there, and Sonnen, who makes residential and commercial energy-storage systems, also plans to build microgrids to power emergency shelters and water-treatment facilities. 

Long term, officials in Puerto Rico have indicated that they could have a competitive bidding process for additional solar-plus storage projects and microgrids throughout the island. Given the devastation and the time it'll take to rebuild a traditional electric grid, this could be time to rethink electricity in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean more broadly. 

Tesla shows how to lead in future energy technology

While most companies are talking about disruption and building technologies of the future, Tesla is out there building the future of energy. The company's "ask questions later" attitude has been a big part of making it the go-to-company for advanced energy solutions. After winning a bid to build an energy-storage project in Australia in under 100 days and taking just over a month to build a solar-plus energy-storage system in Puerto Rico, Tesla has what it takes to make renewable energy a reality. It's a bar everyone in energy will have to strive to keep up with, which is easier said that done in Elon Musk's world.

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