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Elon Musk and Richard Branson want to bring clean energy to Puerto Rico.

Long before Hurricane Maria ripped into Puerto Rico on September 20, it was clear that one of the island’s greatest vulnerabilities was its decrepit, sagging power system almost entirely dependent on fossil fuels. Under the brute force of the Category 4 storm, the aging and poorly maintained power plants and transmission lines sustained such significant damage that nearly a month later, power has only been restored to 21 percent of the island.

While relief staff on the ground are struggling to restore the system as quickly as possible, to some lawmakers, environmental activists, and billionaires, the failure of Puerto Rico’s power infrastructure presents a kind of tabula rasa. They see solar energy as the way out of darkness, with dreams of channeling light into electricity across small, closed-loop transmission systems called microgrids and backing them up with batteries to keep the power on all night. A Puerto Rico transformed into an archipelago of microgrids would also in theory better stand up to storms and provide cheaper energy.

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, who weathered Hurricanes Irma and Maria on his private island in the British Virgin Islands with its own renewable energy-powered microgrid, is launching a green energy fund to rebuild the Caribbean with wind and solar power.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has broached restoring power using solar power and batteries with Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, who said he is open to the possibility.

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