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Is it possible to power an entire island using nothing but the sun? Well, yes. Just ask Tesla and SolarCity.
The project, funded by the American Samoa Economic and Development Authority, the EPA and the Department of Interior, has allowed the entire island of Ta’u to be powered almost entirely by solar rays.
The island previously used diesel generators to provide electricity to its hospital, schools and government institutions. But the solar array has largely made these generators a luxury.
SolarCity and Tesla took just one year to transform this diesel-burning Samoan island into a renewable energy hub
“The microgrid — 1.4 megawatts of solar generation capacity from SolarCity and Tesla and six megawatt hours of battery storage from 60 Tesla Powerpacks — was implemented within just one year from start to finish”, the company explains.
According to SolarCity, this project will also save the island 109 500 gallons of diesel per year, which also makes it one of the greenest places on earth (figuratively, and quite literally). That’s almost enough diesel to fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools.
As for the practicality of the project, Ta’u resident Keith Ahsoon believes that a solar array on the island makes total and utter sense.
“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,” he notes.
While this is a relatively small scale project, SolarCity explains that this microgrid can be used as a proof of concept for larger ventures in the future.
“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,” the company concludes.