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Can Tesla's Batteries Power Puerto Rico? ( 88

An anonymous reader quotes Electrek: Almost 1 million ratepayers of the Puerto Rican Electric Power Authority on the island of Puerto Rico were reportedly without power Wednesday during an island-wide blackout. But a few hundred locations with Tesla Energy storage systems were able to keep the lights on, according to CEO Elon Musk... Some of those locations include very critical services. For example, Tesla deployed a series of Powerpack systems on the Puerto Rican islands of Vieques and Culebra for a sanitary sewer treatment plant, the Arcadia water pumping station, the Ciudad Dorada elderly community, the Susan Centeno hospital, and the Boys and Girls Club of Vieques. Furthermore, the automaker's energy division also deployed a solar+battery system at a hospital in Puerto Rico...

It was also reported that the Puerto Rican government was considering Tesla's plan for a series of microgrids to help bring back power on a larger scale. The government has confirmed that they "presented several projects in remote areas that would allow entire communities to be more independent" and they also "presented a proposal to the Authority for Public-Private Partnerships for the deployment of a large-scale battery system designed to help stabilize the entire Puerto Rico electricity network."

The proposal, involving de-centralized local solar farms, "should prove more resilient to natural disaster," Electrek reported earlier, adding " and of course, it would be a lot cleaner than their currently mostly fossil fuel-based power generation." Already Tesla batteries are "live and delivering power" at 662 locations, Elon Musk tweeted Wednesday.

Meanwhile, CNN reports that one Puerto Rico resident spent three weeks building his own solar power system using $7,500 in parts -- which will ultimately prove cheaper than the $350 a month he was spending to run a gas generator (and waiting as long as six hours in the long gas lines).

They're not revealing his name "because he's concerned someone may try to steal his new system."
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Can Tesla's Batteries Power Puerto Rico?

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  • Power Puerto Rico? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Saturday April 21, 2018 @01:02PM (#56478355)

    Of course they can't power Puerto Rico because they require generation in order to be charged. What they can do though is increase the resilience of the power system by making the frequent power disruptions less of a problem and reduce the cost of power by smoothing out the intermittent nature of less expensive solar and wind systems. Right now PR is heavily dependent on diesel and fuel oil power generation which is one of most expensive ways to generate electricity.

    • You're pedantically conflating "power" and "generation".

      Why? Because you think people don't understand that batteries don't generate infinite power by themselves? Great point. Thanks for educating us.

      I'll get right on suing everyone that uses the phrase "battery powered" for false advertising.

  • sort of. [] Didn't realize that Tesla was already on the job there. I particularly like the plan to build microgrids. It would be good if some other companies got involved though.

    • by harperska ( 1376103 ) on Saturday April 21, 2018 @01:17PM (#56478429)

      It would be good if some other companies got involved in most things that Tesla does.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Microgrids are no better than macro grids when they are totally destroyed by a storm. Bury power lines and you don't need a 'microgrid'. I wonder if you even can define what you think a 'microgrid' is.

      • by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Saturday April 21, 2018 @08:51PM (#56480617)

        In a total micogrid there's the example of a Puerto Rican flower farmer who installed solar panels several years ago. After Hurricane Maria he was still in operation with most of his solar panels still in operational condition so he could run his well pumps.

        How solar energy saved a Puerto Rican farm from Hurricane Maria []

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          The new model the distributed suburban power station is likely the way to go. Basically put a full array of solar panels over every domestic roof, with double the size battery pack required for each property. So houses produce more energy than they need, with half the battery pack to supply them and half the battery pack to out energy back into the grid (for commercial and medium density housing). So the power station is already built and it just needs the generators, solar panels, and the storage system fo

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 21, 2018 @01:21PM (#56478453)

    They're not revealing his name "because he's concerned someone may try to steal his new system."

    This is a common problem in the third world. Doesn't matter how much infrastructure one puts up. It's one's capacity to keep people from stealing it, that's important.

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      It sucks when you put up an electric distribution system, only to have the transformers raided for their cooking oil.

    • by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Saturday April 21, 2018 @09:08PM (#56480695)

      It happens in the USA too. How often have you heard about thieves digging up copper wire or other things for the scrap metal?

      • Whataboutism is a propaganda technique first used by the Soviet Union, in its dealings with the Western world.[1] When Cold War criticisms were levelled at the Soviet Union, the response would be "What about..." followed by the naming of an event in the Western world.[2][3] It represents a case of tu quoque (appeal to hypocrisy),[4] a logical fallacy that attempts to discredit the opponent's position by asserting the opponent's failure to act consistently in accordance with that position, without directly r

        • Sheesh, I wasn't trying to downplay the third world thievery, just pointing out it's not unheard of in the USA. It's certainly a much bigger problem elsewhere.

          • Sure you were trying to downplay third world thievery. It's the whole point of using whataboutism in the first place. "Don't you Americans dare to think that you might be better than third world shitholes!" is not exactly an uncommon thought among your tribe these days. In fact, it's very common to say that we Americans are worse than third world shitholes and you'd rather have their people as immigrants than us. Sad that you hate your own people so much, but that's where we are.
            • I guess I should have included a trigger warning for you. I sorry to have offended your delicate sensibilities. (Not really.)

              • I don't see how trigger warnings and safe spaces are incompatible with other social and global justice efforts. Safe spaces may seem trivial to you but they might mean the difference between life and death for a trans person studying in a small public college in the South. You may find trigger warnings to be unnecessary but they might save a rape survivor from having to watch a violent rape scene, which can be great teaching material for other students.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 21, 2018 @01:22PM (#56478463)

    I've been off-grid for a few years now... A $5000(~1800W panels are now half the cost) system. Meets my power needs except for being in Canukistan, my heat. I have fridge/freezer/40" tv, computer/router/security system(24/7), lights,washer, microwave, electric pressure cooker, window AC unit, power tools, yada yada..
      It meets the basic needs, only.. I have a really crappy battery; $1500 for a new one(only get flooded, leadacid industrial 2500+-cycle life; by far best bang for buck)... But it's been fine for years, why? because of a change in attitude about using power.

      I can run my basics for 4-5 days off the battery and overcast alone(2KWh/day avg). But heres what I do.. When I want to use an electric chainsaw or other heavy tool, what do I do? I wait for the sun to come out! Nothing needs to be done immediately. For virtually everyone with their own roof/unobstructed sun, we could be off-grid now, solar now.. It's the regulations and forced 'technical workers and inspectors required in most states that drive the cost of solar through the roof.

    As usual, the government makes everything worse.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by ColdWetDog ( 752185 )

      That's nice Mr. Aspy-in-the-woods. Try that in suburbia. Or, perish the thought, a city.

      You don't want them to come visit, do you? So you need to find a scalable solution. Yes, that's going to require cooperation but you can leave that to the extroverts.

    • I can run my basics for 4-5 days off the battery and overcast alone(2KWh/day avg)

      The electricity consumption of the average Canadian household is 11,879 kWh/yr [], or 32.5 kWh/day. You're able to live off the grid with your system because your electricity consumption is 1/16th that of the average Canadian home. Your electricity consumption is 21% the world's household average, and 40% the household average for the thriftiest OECD member nation (Mexico, which has a 46% poverty rate).

      Any typical househol

      • At the same time, a 1.8kW solar install is on the small side. I have a 7.8kW solar system (30x 260W panels) and my house footprint is 1000 sqft, so not huge. That is enough to generate 30-40kWh/day in the summer. The biggest problem in Canada is that I get zero power from my panels for a couple of months in the winter because of snow cover. Being completely off-grid is not possible in my case.
      • My wife and I live with a wasteful 7.2 kWh/day on average over an entire year in Oregon. I'm not sure he claimed 2 kWh/day as usage, the sentence seems to be formed to indicate that is how much he gets on overcast days and that he could last 4-5 days from the battery with that minimal overcast generation.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      That depends on your nation AC. Having and paying for a grid connection is what makes a dwelling legal in some nations.
  • 'The proposal, involving de-centralized local solar farms, "should prove more resilient to natural disaster," '

    Not one bit!

  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Saturday April 21, 2018 @02:25PM (#56478783)

    Yeah I can see that working out well. Oh that was decentralized solar farm ? Toss in transmission lines and it looks that much better.

    Puerto Rico is a perfect argument for small nukes 50 MW on sealed reactor that only needs to be refueled every few years perfect.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As the FA mentions, there were in fact solar farms on the island this time around. They survived pretty well, with an estimated loss of 5% of the panels. Some transmission lines for redundancy never hurts, but a solar farm already has lots of redundancy built in.

  • by VeryFluffyBunny ( 5037285 ) on Saturday April 21, 2018 @03:01PM (#56478975)
    Nice how they slipped in the "Public-Private Partnerships" bit so nobody seems to be calling attention to it. Where I come from (UK), they're used to extract/extort tax-payer money out of the public and funnel it into private pockets. Sounds like Puerto Rico is rapidly turning into Puerto Pobre and Bancos Ricos.
  • would you use battery technology adapted for transportation (high specific energy/power) for a stationary application? Flow batteries have been around for decades for just this sort of application. They load follow well, too. Not as sexy as Elon Musk, though, I guess. (Yuck!) He probably can deliver faster though, and might subsidize it a bit for the PR.

The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.