Elon Musk’s tweets about a solar rescue plan spark interest from Puerto Rico

Alan Boyle
Puerto Rico National Guard soldiers and volunteers work to clear road debris after Hurricane Maria. (U.S. Army Photo / Spc. Hamiel Irizarry)

A Twitter conversation about beefing up Puerto Rico’s hurricane-hit power grid with solar power and heavy-duty batteries is turning into what may be Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s next grand project.

The conversation started when a fellow Twitter user name-checked Musk in a tweet about the U.S. territory’s dire situation in the wake of Hurricane Maria, and whether the rebuilding effort could offer an opportunity to rethink how Puerto Rico gets its power:

Musk suggested the job could be done, but only with Puerto Rico’s go-ahead:

Tesla has indeed taken on large-scale solar installations on the island of Ta’u in American Samoa, and on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. And last week, the company began work in earnest to boost South Australia’s power grid with a 100-megawatt battery storage facility in 100 days.

In Hurricane Maria’s wake, Tesla is reportedly sending hundreds of its Powerwall battery systems to Puerto Rico and is working with local organizations to identify locations for installation. Musk is said to have donated $250,000 to relief efforts.

Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rossello, voiced interest in Musk’s suggestion:

Will all this tweeting bear fruit? Why not? After all, that’s how Tesla’s battery-building project in Australia got going.

Update for 6:50 p.m. PT Oct. 6: 

In another series of tweets, Musk took on an even deeper subject: speculation that what we think of as reality is actually an AI-fueled simulation. Last year, Musk said he thought the simulation scenario was highly likely.

That claim suffered a setback last week when physicists published a paper saying that such a simulation couldn’t be run on classical computers, due to quantum effects. Nevertheless, Musk held fast to his view during a Twitter conversation with the folks behind the “Rick and Morty” TV show:

This report has been updated with Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello’s response.

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