Ta’u, an island in American Samoa, used to run off crude oil but is now entirely powered by a solar array and battery packs. This was made possible thanks to green tech business Tesla/Solar City (which recently merged), as well as the American Samoa Economic Development Authority, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior, all of which helped fund the $8 million venture.
According to Radio New Zealand, the island previously used as much as 300 gallons of fuel a day (that’s 109,500 a year!) to power itself. At times, the island’s 600 residents would wait months for fuel shipments. In effect, electricity had to be rationed and power outages were common. Now, however, the island can go three days without sun and still maintain electricity. When the sun does shine, the microgrid can recharge to full capacity in only seven hours.
Peter Rive, SolarCity co-founder and CTO, explained in a blog post that there are many benefits to investing in renewable energy:
“Factoring in the escalating cost of fuel, along with transporting such mass quantities to the small island, the financial impact is substantial,” he says.
Rive also pointed out that the microgram eliminates “the hazards of power intermittency” and makes “outages a thing of the past.”
At present, the island is running off of 1.4 megawatts of solar generation capacity (or 5,328 solar panels) and 6 megawatt hours of battery storage from 60 Tesla Powerpacks. Tesla/SolarCity was given an opportunity to prove how renewable technologies are the future and definitely succeeded.
“Ta’u is not a postcard from the future, it’s a snapshot of what is possible right now. 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.”
Watch the video below to learn more:
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