Elon Musk tweeted last week that Tesla would shift its attentions to help with the aid and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria.
Now, it appears that the company is making good on his word: Tesla has reportedly begun to ship its Powerpack batteries, which can be used to store large amounts of energy generated by the sun and other means, to the island. These are Tesla's massive batteries meant for commercial and utility use, as opposed to the smaller Powerwall packs meant for the home.
After Musk expressed his willingness to get involved, he and Puerto Rico's governor Ricardo Rossello exchanged tweets about Tesla's role on the island, and later spoke in private about the issue. Tesla VP of global infrastructure operations Cal Lankton then met with Rossello, according to Electrek, presumably to discuss a strategy at greater length. The Powerpacks could be the next step in Tesla's recovery efforts.
An image showing what appears to be three of the units was published by Electreck, which claims the photo was taken after the rigs were unloaded at San Juan's airport over the weekend.
— Electrek.Co (@ElectrekCo) October 15, 2017
The 3,575-pound Powerpacks can store up to 210 kWh of power, and have been used in Tesla's projects on the Hawaiian island of Kauai and American Samoa's Ta'u to create sustainable power grids. The units could conceivably be pressed into service in Puerto Rico to help rebuild the grid using what power can be produced, but it's not exactly clear what they're meant for yet.
If the image is the real deal, the Powerpacks expand on Telsa's contribution of "hundreds" of smaller Powerwall units sent to Puerto Rico in the immediate aftermath of the storm. The company also provided certified employees to help install the batteries, and Musk pledged that even more qualified workers would be sent from the mainland to train local installers and combat opportunistic price gougers on the island.
Tesla representatives didn't immediately respond to our questions about the Powerpacks and the company's role in Puerto Rico's recovery, and the company has stayed largely silent about the efforts outside of Musk's tweets.
At press time, just 13.7 percent of Puerto Rico has power. Rossello set an "aggressive" goal to restore power to 95 percent of the grid by Dec. 15 of this year, and maybe Tesla's renewable energy tech will be part of those efforts — but the company shouldn't be seen as the island's one and only savior.
Building a brand-new energy grid based on Tesla's tech would take far longer than a few months and would require a large number of Powerpacks — the Kauai project, which is on a much smaller scale, depends on a network of more than 270 units.