After Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico and obliterated its power grid, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has expressed interest in helping to rebuild the island's infrastructure. Given the lackluster and poorly received relief efforts by the president and US government, this has the potential to be Tesla's flagship project if they go through with it. As of publishing, only 10% of Puerto Ricans have power. After a Twitter user posed the question of rebuilding the grid with solar and battery technology, Musk tweeted a promising response expressing Tesla's interest in the project.
The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too. Such a decision would be in the hands of the PR govt, PUC, any commercial stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of PR.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 5, 2017
Thursday evening, Ricardo Rossello, the governor of Puerto Rico, responded to the request saying "let's tallk."
Early Friday morning Musk tweeted back saying that he would be "happy to talk." With such enthusiasm from both sides, it's clear that this could be a serious project and not just another of Musk's dreams.
The biggest hurdle to overcome is of course funding. Puerto Rico has struggled with massive amounts of debt recently and it's not clear who would be willing or even able pay for the project. Upgrading existing infrastructure to solar is more expensive in the short term, but building a solar grid from the ground up has similar or lower costs than building new coal or gas power plants.
Puerto Rico has a population of over 3 million people which would put the project on a scale never seen before. Tesla recently won a project in South Australia to power 30,000 homes with a 100MW facility. Puerto Rico's plan could be 100 times larger.