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Tesla builds solar farm to power a storm-damaged children's hospital in Puerto Rico

Samantha Masunaga, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Science & Technology News

Tesla Inc. said it has assembled a solar panel installation and battery storage project at a hurricane-battered children's hospital in Puerto Rico in a humanitarian effort that also illustrates the company's ability to deliver power quickly.

The Palo Alto, Calif., electric carmaker and solar energy company tweeted photos of the project showing rows of solar panels being installed in what appears to be a parking lot adjacent to the Hospital del Nino in San Juan.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Instagram that the hospital needed more power than a typical roof installation could provide, and that this system would allow it to operate completely off the grid.

"Glad to help support the recovery," Musk said in an Instagram post.

Puerto Rico is still reeling from the devastation wreaked last month by Hurricane Maria, which made landfall Sept. 20, destroying thousands of homes and cutting power and phone lines. On Friday, Gov. Ricardo Rossello said the death toll from the natural disaster was 49.

Rossello and Musk began public discussions on Oct. 6, when the governor tweeted at the entrepreneur and suggested that Puerto Rico could be a "flagship project" to "show the world the power and scalability" of Tesla's technologies.

Musk responded that day, saying he would be "happy to talk" and that he hoped Tesla could be helpful.

On Tuesday -- less than three weeks after their social media rapport began -- Tesla tweeted that the project was "going live."

The company's effort in Puerto Rico is not its first attempt to quickly build an alternative power system. In July, Tesla said it would construct the world's most powerful lithium-ion battery storage system in South Australia. Musk pledged that the project would be completed in 100 days, or it would be free.

Tesla is not the only company whose Puerto Rico aid efforts could also help refine its technology. Google parent company Alphabet Inc. said last week that two balloons from its experimental "Project Loon" initiative were providing internet access to parts of the island where cellphone towers had been knocked out by the hurricane.

(c)2017 Los Angeles Times

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