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Blog Musk Says Tesla Can Rebuild Puerto Rico's Power System

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by TMC Staff, Oct 5, 2017.

  1. TMC Staff

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    Tesla has already sent hundreds of Powerwalls to Puerto Rico to help restore electricity in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Today, CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter the company would be glad to scale the system to power the whole island if the government wanted to pursue that option. Tesla has already used a combination...
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  2. Bebop

    Bebop Member

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    I really hope so. That would be amazing.
     
  3. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Active Member

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    I'm very interested to see what Tesla has planned for St John. At(I believe) 24MW of peak demand and plenty of willing participants it's an ideal candidate to eventually break off from the underwater PowerPoints to other US Virgin Islands.

    It sounds like they want to do something soon on the much smaller side of the island. This island will likely be dark for another 4 months, so doing something quick would be great PR and start the conversation about powering the whole island. Then you just need to scale considerably for their neighbors in Puerto Rico.
     
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  4. Evoforce

    Evoforce Member

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    Solar, batteries, wind turbines were the first things that came to my mind after hearing of the devastation.
     
  5. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    It is the obvious way to build a new power grid for Puerto Rico, one that would produce zero pollution, require no fossil fuel imports, and could be designed to survive Cat 5 hurricanes.

    I would be interested in knowing how much it would cost to build.
     
  6. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Active Member

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    There are floating offshore turbines now, I wonder if they will make a version that can be remotely cut off and inverted underwater to avoid the 200+mph winds we saw with Irma? Simple geographic redundancies would make much more sense, but it might be interesting to see what engineers could come up with.

    The wave action shouldn't be too much to bear. Perhaps submerging a massive turbine in salt water is not good?
     
  7. Richard Hugo

    Richard Hugo New Member

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    I'm curios who would pay for it, beings Puerto Rico is beyond flat broke.
     
  8. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Active Member

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    Utility schemes are nothing but piles of debt that are slowly repaid so this should be something that can be figured out. Especially since there is nearly zero marginal cost to wind and solar. Whatever entity puts this up can pull in payments for decades with no fuel costs.
     
  9. dgpcolorado

    dgpcolorado high altitude member

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    I don't really get this. Solar and wind will be obliterated the next time a hurricane comes through, just as with a conventional grid. Nice gesture if the cost is subsidized I suppose, but otherwise it is hard to see Puerto Rico being able to afford the cost of powerpacks and solar panels anytime soon. Especially with what appears to be a mass migration of people to the mainland for jobs.
     
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  10. bxr140

    bxr140 Member

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    Interesting tangent.

    What does it take to build a robust power grid in hurricane prone areas? I gather the island solar/battery solutions are thus far typically consolidated into a utility-scale installation...but even with a more distributed generation/storage solution [that would provide some redundancy/backup over a single large installation] there's bound to be transmission lines that are still prone to extreme weather.

    There's also relative fragility of solar panels relative to a Dino fuel power plant. Regardless if localized or distributed, if there's a bunch of *sugar* flying around from high winds, solar is going to suffer unless they can batten down the hatches.

    Wind turbines? I dunno...they're probably actually pretty stout. Anyone know the design limits of a mega wind turbine? Most are probably tall enough to not have to worry about debris too much.
     
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  11. kort677

    kort677 Active Member

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  12. neko

    neko Member

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    I am waiting on a power wall myself, and was getting antsy about how long it is taking. But I guess Puerto Rico needs it more than I do, so I will be patient.
     
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  13. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Active Member

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    Standard panels are rated to withstand 145mph winds, but heavy flying debris is obviously going to destroy a lot of them in a hurricane. But so what? Solar panels themselves don't cost anything, they're about $100 each and still dropping.

    Just sail a dozen containers full of panels into port the day after and slap them up. Or take them down when a hurricane warning is announced and run off your battery for 48-72hrs while you ride it out.
     
  14. wycolo

    wycolo Active Member

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    > slap them up. Or take them down when a hurricane warning is announced

    It's really just that simple. :rolleyes:
    --
     
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  15. Ulmo

    Ulmo Active Member

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    #15 Ulmo, Oct 11, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
    Puerto Ricans are used to doing a lot of labor to prepare for extreme weather events; you'll see them putting plywood on all their windows and other things like that. Part of the problem would be knowing that they could and need to do such things with solar panels, what to do, and having sufficient warning and tools. Specific loading and specifications for each installation should be communicated so that they know how to handle them each specifically in these events. Seems plausible but needs a bit more human logic applied to it.

    Having a bunch of missiles coming from every solar garden racking component that came loose in the region during a hurricane would not be good either.

    All of this needs to be addressed. Hurricanes are Puerto Rico's version of California's Earthquakes. They prepare for those while we prepare for earthquakes, like we should, and like they should.

    Here's an example of a lot of considerations on what to prepare for with solar panels, inverters, and racking, in one installation.


    Do I have a fantasy that Elon's Solar Roof shingles are strong enough not to break in the wind? You see, that doesn't help, because if they dislodge and become airborn, they're still deadly and not in your solar garden any more, and furthermore, Puerto Rico doesn't have sloped shingle roofs. So the daydream fantasy takes a sharp turn there: I start thinking about solar singles that are fused into the concrete itself of which the buildings are made, which would tilt the roof construction and building construction practices of the island into incorporating more concrete roofs in their structures (presently they don't use concrete for many roofs because of the suboptimal material characteristics for concrete being roofing, but that may change if they integrate solar). Would it be as easy as splunking the existing Tesla Roof panel (with connections pre-connected to whatever connection materials necessary) down in wet concrete like a tile during concrete placement day, or would a special concrete blend panel be made? I presume existing solar tile panels would just crack in the concrete while it cures and during normal temperature size changes. This is the sort of thing I'd study if I were a super-rich Puerto Rican who was somehow still wed to being on the island and a geek (which, I must point out, is highly unlikely and rare in the population, probably on the order of 0).
     
  16. TheTalkingMule

    TheTalkingMule Active Member

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    Why wouldn't it be? Certainly the racking and panel connections could easily be designed for "quick disconnect" in hurricane prone areas.
     
  17. SageBrush

    SageBrush Active Member

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    In the scheme of things that go along with preparing for a hurricane, removing panels does not sound too out of line.
     
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  18. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    I'm not sure where you're getting your information regarding 'solar & wind will all be obliterated'. It's not just 'a nice gesture'.

    Friends on the island all have solar panels, all of which survived the hurricane (other things didn't). The only problem now, of course, is that they can't access the power because the grid is down. They're trying to get Powerwalls, but instead of $3500, various companies are quoting between $10k and $12,500.

    There is a fairly sizable middle class in Puerto Rico that is already pitching in to help rebuild. I have two friends in contact with Tesla right now, willing to help in any way with installations. These are MIT-educated engineers, island-raised & they believe in their future.

    I'm sure some of the solar installs will be obliterated in the next major storm -- but unlike the grid, a microgrid only takes down the one area, rather than large parts of the island. (When I was working there, one cut cable took out power to the entire northern half of the island for just under two days.)

    Yes, it's appropriate that Powerwalls are redirected to disaster areas. But I get being antsy and wanting it. My power went out for 8 hours a few days ago & I was rethinking my position on this. :)
     
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  19. wycolo

    wycolo Active Member

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    > all of which survived the hurricane [bonnie]

    That is indeed lucky but if we contemplate a future fully solarized P.R. exposed to a similar storm then damage to the arrays will be extensive, like in the photo on MSNBC. If spare panels are secured onsite repairs could be made quickly and neighborhood power restored. That seems the best that can be done now; we must wait for the next Class 5 storm to rebuild with re-designed wind-proof solar panel arrays. It is crucial that neighborhood power systems install underground cables asap.
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