[video, links and images in on-line article]
Nov. 22, 2016 01:40PM EST
Tesla, SolarCity Power Entire Island With Solar + Batteries
Ta'u, an island in American Samoa, has turned its nose at fossil fuels
and is now almost 100 percent powered with solar panels and batteries
thanks to technology from the newly combined Tesla and SolarCity.
The microgrid is operated by American Samoa Power Authority and was
funded by the American Samoa Economic Development Authority, the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior.
Radio New Zealand reported that the $8 million project will
significantly reduce fuel costs for the island, which is located more
than 4,000 miles from the west coast of the U.S. Ta'u's 600 residents
previously relied on shipments of diesel for power. At times, a shipment
could not arrive on the island for months, meaning the island had to
power ration and faced reoccurring outages.
But the new microgrid replaces this reliance on dirty fuels with more
affordable solar energy, as Peter Rive, SolarCity co-founder and CTO,
detailed in a blog post about the project, adding that the microgrid is
designed to optimize system performance and maximize savings.
"Factoring in the escalating cost of fuel, along with transporting
such mass quantities to the small island, the financial impact is
substantial," Rive wrote. He pointed out that the microgrid also
eliminates "the hazards of power intermittency" and makes "outages a
thing of the past."
The microgrid, which only took one year to build, features 1.4 megawatts
of solar generation capacity (or 5,328 solar panels) and 6 megawatt
hours of battery storage from 60 Tesla Powerpacks. An estimated 109,500
gallons of diesel will be offset per year.
"Before today, every time we turned on the light, turn on the
television, turn on maybe the air conditioner, all of the cash registers
in China, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia go 'cha-ching,' but not after today,"
SolarCity market development director Jon Yoshimura told Radio New
Zealand. "We will keep more of that money here, where it belongs."
With the Powerpacks, the island can store solar energy at night,
allowing for around-the-clock use. The microgrid allows the island to
stay fully powered for three days without sunlight and can recharge to
full capacity in only seven hours.
A hospital, high school and elementary schools, fire and police stations
and businesses will be using the new clean energy source.
"It's always sunny out here, and harvesting that energy from the sun
will make me sleep a lot more comfortably at night, just knowing I'll be
able to serve my customers," local resident and business owner Keith
Ahsoon told SolarCity.
"This is part of making history," Ahsoon added. "This project will help
lessen the carbon footprint of the world. Living on an island, you
experience global warming firsthand. Beach erosions and other noticeable
changes are a part of life here. It's a serious problem, and this
project will hopefully set a good example for everyone else to follow."
Ta'u could be an example for other islands around the globe facing
"Ta'u is not a postcard from the future, it's a snapshot of what is
possible right now," Rive wrote. "Renewable power is an economical,
practical solution for a growing number of locations and energy needs,
and islands that have traditionally relied on fossil fuels can easily
transition to microgrids powered by solar and storage today."
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