It’s been over a month since Puerto Rico was struck by the wrath of Hurricane Maria yet only 18 percent of the Islanders have access to electricity (a figure that has actually dropped by 3 percent over the last few weeks). Luckily, relief efforts are finally picking up some momentum.
Staying true to their word, Tesla’s project to install the island with solar panels and electricity has gone live. In a tweet on Tuesday, Tesla announced it has started work restoring electricity back to Hospital del Niño, a children’s hospital in Guaynabo in the north of the island.
The project has already seen the installation of a parking lot full of solar panels along with Tesla's Powerpack batteries. This system includes 200 kilowatt hours (kWh) of solar energy generation and 500 kWh of storage, enough to cover the daily output of the hospital, according to CBS News correspondent David Begnaud who’s currently reporting on the ground in Puerto Rico.
Tesla also noted that this is just the “first of many” solar and storage projects it has up its sleeve, so there's more to come. Elon Musk, Tesla’s lead chieftain, has also donated $250,000 of his own money towards relief efforts on the island.
The bold effort actually began on Twitter. Elon Musk tweeted that Tesla’s battery technology could help Puerto Rico rebuild after Hurricane Maria. In response, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said: "let's talk". After a few more public exchanges, Musk replied: "Sounds good, I look forward to talking later today". So, seemingly just like that, a deal was born.
Tesla isn’t alone, the equally ambitious plan for X’s Project Loon has also just gone live. Project Loon has been working with the Puerto Rican Government and international aviation authorities to deliver emergency communications to the hardest hit parts of the island via giant internet-beaming helium balloons.
“We’ve never deployed Project Loon connectivity from scratch at such a rapid pace... We plan to continue to offer emergency internet connectivity in areas where it’s needed for as long as it is useful and we’re able to do so,” X said in a blog post.