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Power Transportation Hardware Technology

Tesla Is Shipping Hundreds of Powerwall Batteries To Puerto Rico (futurism.com) 167

schwit1 quotes a report from Futurism: In a continued streak of goodwill during this year's devastating hurricane season, Tesla has been shipping hundreds of its Powerwall batteries to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Since the hurricane hit on 20 September, much of the U.S. territory has been left without power -- about 97 percent, as of 27 September -- hampering residents' access to drinkable water, perishable food, and air conditioning. The island's hospitals are struggling to keep generators running as diesel fuel dwindles. Installed by employees in Puerto Rico, Tesla's batteries could be paired with solar panels in order to store electricity for the territory, whose energy grid may need up to six months to be fully repaired. Several power banks have already arrived to the island, and more are en route.
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Tesla Is Shipping Hundreds of Powerwall Batteries To Puerto Rico

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 02, 2017 @03:23PM (#55296023)

    It will be hard to set up enough solar panels quickly to charge powerwalls, but in the meantime they could be charged at locations with power or generators, then moved to points of use. A small generator charging a battery can often be as useful as a larger generator.

    • they could be charged at locations with power or generators, then moved to points of use.

      Moved how, exactly?
      On what roads, exactly?
      On the back of what trucks, exactly?
      Charged where, exactly?

      Puerto Rico was broke before the hurricane hit, now Tesla is exploiting their desperation by shipping them âhundredsâ(TM) of expensive battery packs...

  • Don't you need to charge batteries? Where exactly are residents without power get the electricity to charge the batteries?

    On the other hand, it is a great marketing scheme. Powerwall batteries + SolarCity roof panels = good business.

    • It looks like a lot of the grid is down, but the plants are operating. So, they can charge, and then swap.

      • they can charge, and then swap.

        You want them to drive Tesla power walls all around the island, charging them up like so many nicad batteries?

        They will have a third of these powerwalls in transit to and from the functioning generators at any given time.

        BTW, How long does it take to charge a powerwalls?

  • What's not clear from the article is whether he's donating them or whether he expects to be paid for them later. I know they're not cheap but under the circumstances I'd hope he's giving them away for free.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      What if he's lending them, at no cost, but expects them to be returned once the situation stabilizes? Why do you rule that out?

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      I know they're not cheap but under the circumstances I'd hope he's giving them away for free.

      I hope he is not. It is better to loan them to cover the crisis, and then take them back so they are available for the NEXT crisis somewhere else.

      The last thing Puerto Rico needs is more permanent handouts. They really need to figure out how to create a sustainable functional economy, and more charity isn't the answer.

      • Oh I dunno, maybe would be good press and PR for him and his company, and perhaps a great way to help promote the product?
    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      Regardless, he's expecting a profit from them later.

      Even if he's donating now, they will need to maintain them if they want to keep them. Who will be contracted for installing the solar panels the batteries need?

      He's only giving them half the solution, it's a great PR stunt but the batteries without panels are worthless and how many panels do you think are left after the storm ripped through?

  • Kudos for sending batteries.

    So, how long are they to last before recharge?
    Are they also supplying solar setups to recharge?
    How heavy, can they be easily and safely disconnected and reconnected to home electrical after taking somewhere to charge?
    What is the plan for disposing of these batteries? That's an awful lot of hazardous environmental waste to be disposed of in what... 1 to 5 years? Leeching all into the ground water...

    • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Monday October 02, 2017 @03:56PM (#55296417) Homepage

      1) They recharge every day, providing day/night load shifting, both for power plants and transmission lines (aka, preventing daytime brownouts when demand exceeds capacity).

      2) Loadshifting benefits every major source of power, not just solar (and, as mentioned, it benefits transmission lines as well)

      3) They're about the size of a breaker box, but 125kg. Any competent electrician can wire one. They're all-in-one systems with the inverter included. You do not "disconnect them to charge", they're not designed to "carry" power around.

      4) They're warrantied for 10 years. And they don't just die when the warranty expires. Nor are they "hazardous environmental waste"; it's lithium ion, not nickel-cadmium or lead-acid. The contents therein, particularly the cobalt in the cathodes, are high demand feedstocks.

      • Cobalt is 100% carcinogenic. The depleted uranium rounds used by the military are less toxic than the replacement tungsten-cobalt alloy ones. It's bad enough that it's the reason why Cobalt tipped tools have completely gone away over the last 5 years.

        • by Rei ( 128717 )

          Cobalt is not "100% carcinogenic". First off, "100% carcinogenic" isn't even a meaningful term. Secondly, cobalt is an essential nutrient in small quantities; the "cobal-" in "cobalamin" (aka, vitamin B12) is cobalt. In higher quantities it's poisonous, although not to the extent of normal "toxic" metals like cadmium and lead; in particular, cobalt is mostly inert when not as a dust or soluble salt. And if it's carcinogenic at all, it's at a level that's so low that it's tough to make out among the effec [nih.gov]

        • It's bad enough that it's the reason why Cobalt tipped tools have completely gone away over the last 5 years.

          If by completely gone away you mean searching for cobalt in the tools section of Amazon giving just shy of 200,000 products, and every local hardware store across the world stocking basic cobalt tipped cutting tools, then sure, they've "completely gone away".

          I guess the internet, televsision, and the petrol engine have also "completely gone away" by your criteria. It must be a very empty world.

  • so, a cynic could say this is just a marketing stunt, sure. but isn't a marketing stunt that may help people better than another car ad on TV?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Funny you should bring in advertising. This is publicity money can't buy, and this is *exactly* why they're doing it.

      • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

        Funny you should bring in advertising. This is publicity money can't buy, and this is *exactly* why they're doing it.

        And it's a brilliant move, too, since it gives them a chance to demonstrate to the world the utility of their product and how it solves a problem (lightning-fast rollout of 24/7 power) that "traditional" power grids cannot.

        It's one thing for a company to say "give us money and we promise we can do this for you", and a much more powerful thing when the company can say "look what we did for Puerto Rico on a small budget and miniscule timeline".

  • Oh this should do wonders for Puerto Rico's neglected electrical grid and it's capacity.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Experts from Germany (Sonnen GmbH) are coordinating and doing install on this project:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news... [bloomberg.com]

    Trump meanwhile did helpfully dedicate a golf trophy in honor of Puerto Rico:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/n... [independent.co.uk]

    In case you didn't know, Puerto Rico is an AMERICAN territory - the people of that territory are American citizens. But our current government for some reason is unwilling/unable to help, and is only much later getting assistance from those who ARE willing/able to help.

    Not that I'm

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      The legal-technical reasons are a lot more convoluted. They're naturalized citizens and it's not a state. Those are big differences, naturalized citizens can't get security clearances, they can often not get federal student loans or federal jobs.

      Puerto Rico is for all intents and purposes a colony of the US. It's supposed to produce goods/gold/gems but there are no provisions to help them with an invasion, local issues or a disaster.

      On the other hand, Puerto Rico has also had a string of bad leadership, pay

  • by oldgraybeard ( 2939809 ) on Monday October 02, 2017 @03:49PM (#55296327)
    Isn't it true that the Electric Utility in Puerto Rico is Owned and Operated by the government?

    Is that maybe why, The Electric Utility is having money problems, The Electric Grid was sub par, The disaster Planning was sub par and the fact that the Electric Utility is so totally unprepared to restore the Electric Grid?

    My point being, it is to late now to do anything now. So lets not relive the past. But, maybe the Electric Utility should be privatized. There isn't much left and this mightl expedite the rebuilding process. And hopefully put the Electric Utility on firmer footing. That could be more prepared for the future storms to come.

    So come on Tesla, Somebody? step up make the future better ;)
    • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

      The power utility was $9 billion dollars in debt before this crisis even happened. They weren't able to maintain the network they already had, rebuilding it from scratch is even harder when you don't have any money to do it with.

    • Additional Information

      From article dated: JULY 2, 2017
      Puerto Ricos Power Authority Effectively Files for Bankruptcy [nytimes.com]

      And then there is this.
      "Electricity is given free of charge to every one of the commonwealth's 78 municipalities, to many of its government enterprises and even to some private businesses located in buildings owned by municipalities. PREPA has $1 billion or more in accounts receivable, much of which is owed by other units of the Puerto Rico government."
      Renewable electricity as a solu [thehill.com]
      • Correction
        And some wonder why the Electric Grid is "NOT" getting repaired?

        And yes the $9 Billion dollar debt good point!! Guspaz!!
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        One of the major reasons they went bankrupt was the high cost of fuel. Fuel was the majority of their expenditure. So switching to fuel-free renewables sounds like a good idea.

    • > But, maybe the Electric Utility should be privatized

      Ah, privatization. The solution to that pesky problem of too much money in citizens' hands. Reading your entire post I am still not sure if you are serious or if that's some next level sarcasm. As someone who lives in an area (British Columbia) and lived through 3 Crown corporations being privatized, I will attest first hand that you don't get any better service, but you certainly do get higher bills.

      • I put privatization out there as an option. But your point is very valid!!! And a good point!
        • Also, privatization does not always mean a for profit company. My current electric provider is an association.

          Dakota Electric Association is a member-owned, not-for-profit electric utility founded by local farmers in 1937 with the help of the Rural Electrification Administration.
          • To be pedantic, your electric provider is not an example of privatization. It was created as a private entity. An example of privatization would be, say, selling BC Rail - a government owned rail service with thousands of kilometers of track in BC to CN rail, Canada's largest railroad company. Sure the handover was messy and a few people involved with the deal on the government side went to jail for corruption, but the important thing to come out of all of it was that CN acquired BC Rail for about 50 cen

  • a few years ago, I was quite impressed with how all the utility poles were made out of reinforced concrete and were up high enough for trees to not be an issue. I have now learned that this is a big fat lesson learned from Hurricane Andrew in particular.

    I've never been to Puerto Rico, but from I understand, their utility poles were not built to such standards because to date, they'd been lucky.

    Up here in Massachusetts, we don't get much in the way of hurricanes, so most of our utility poles, including the
    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I've never seen a wooden utility pole that wasn't treated against rot. Pine logs wouldn't last 2 years without being treated. I've only seen one pole replaced in my neighborhood in the 18 years I've lived here, so the rest may be going on 20-30 years.

      • Maybe I'm exaggerating, or maybe your neighborhood was built better, but I've lived and worked in the Boston area for ten years and just about every town has poles that look near the end of their useful life, some of which are patched up with 2x4s.
        • by swb ( 14022 )

          I don't know, the oldest just look like creosote soaked pine trunks stripped of their limbs. The newer ones have the green tinge of more modern wood treatment.

          The one weird thing I have noticed in the past couple of years is that somebody (I assume the electric utility, who owns the poles) has sunk ~5/8" torx-head fasteners into all the poles near their bases.

          I can't figure out what this is for. My initial thought is that it would risk splitting the pole, and at the base that could be a problem. They see

    • I just spent 8 days without power in the wonderful land of Florida. The winds that took down my lines were in the 50 mph range. Our infrastructure sucks. Florida almost never gets bad weather and is spoiled by the fact. These folks should experience living someplace that gets several ice storms every year or hail storms punching out half of the roofs almost every May.

      On the other hand, I lived in Kansas for a couple of years once. We almost never went without power despite 25-30 mph winds being almost norma

      • Florida and Puerto Rico can't bury most of their lines -- salt water flooding. Kansas is well above sea level.
        • I'm in central Florida. My immediate neighborhood has buried lines placed by the developer instead of the power company. The lines feeding the neighborhood were the problem. And no, they aren't above ground because they are higher voltage. They dive underground at the edge of the neighborhood and don't reach the first step-down for the neighborhood for several hundred more feet. It's a pure cost equation. The power companies don't suffer the cost of the lost wages and business.

    • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

      Alternatively you could put your power lines along with your phone lines under the fricking ground and waterproof all the joints if you live in a hurricane zone. Cheaper than rebuilding every time a hurricane blows through.

      Even if you use steel or concrete utility poles there is still a risk of the lines being damaged by debris.

      Oh and you could also stop building your houses out of matchsticks. They teach this at nursery level in "The Three Little Pigs" for crying out load. There are codes/standards for hur

  • "...could be paired with solar panels..."
    So the don't actually have solar panels for them, then?
    In which case the question would be, what real value shipping chargeable batteries to a place with no electricity?

    Wouldn't any generation capacity already be at use in critical functions, ie no spare time to run to charge these things?

  • So, he gets to take a huge write off on his taxes for the donation, and then his sole sourced installers get money for the installation of not only the batteries, but also any solar to supply them.

    All while quietly locking everyone else out of the market. In the name of "humanitarian" needs.

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