Cegli via Adobe Stock
Cegli via Adobe Stock

Puerto Rico’s power grid has been down since Hurricane Maria devastated the island on Sept. 20. With reports that the island could continue without power for months, several tech companies are stepping in to provide relief—in the form of energy.

American automaker and energy storage company Tesla has begun sending hundreds of its Powerwall battery systems—large batteries designed for homes that store power from solar panels—in hopes of restoring electric power to the island. The company is currently working with local companies to find the best locations for these power banks, which Tesla released to the market in 2015, and has even sent its employees to the island to help install them. CEO Elon Musk has also personally donated $250,000 to the hurricane relief effort.

On Oct. 2, Houston-based solar energy company Sunnova, the largest solar provider for residential buildings in Puerto Rico, announced that would send solar power-storing batteries to the island while working to get its existing energy storage systems back online. “Sunnova is working directly with Governor Rosselló’s team and the Trump administration to assist in the recovery and restoration of power to residents facing prolonged electricity outages,” said Sunnova's CEO, John Berger in a press release. A team has been sent to the island with generators, satellite phones, and solar backpacks to support local employees.

Also joining the effort, German energy storage company Sonnen GmbH has committed to provide power to 15 emergency relief centers in Puerto Rico by installing microgrids—small-scale systems that provide power by combining solar panels and batteries—and will subsidize the cost of installations. Because of their quick install process, these microgrids should be operating within the next month according to the company.

Sonnen GmbH hopes its donation will increase sales on the island and plans to use profits from these local sales to build up to an additional 35 microgrids. “Our smart energy storage system is uniquely positioned to serve as a critical resource during the emergency in Puerto Rico,” said Blake Richetta, head of Sonnen’s U.S. unit, in a Sonnen PR Newswire press release on October 2. Sonnen is prepared to help immediately as it has had energy storage systems installed in Puerto Rico with its local partner, Pura Energia, since early 2016.