Island Trades Diesel Electricity for Solar PowerJohn Simpson | December 02, 2016
The island of Ta’u in American Samoa has traded diesel-powered electricity for solar power.
A microgrid—made up of 1.4 megawatts of solar generation capacity supplied by SolarCity and Tesla and 6 megawatt hours of battery storage from 60 Tesla Powerpacks—now provides almost 100% of the island's power needs.
Funded by the American Samoa Economic Development Authority, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of the Interior, the project is expected to allow the island to save on energy costs. Solar and storage systems eliminate expenses associated with shipping diesel and may provide stable power costs.
According to SolarCity, the system is expected to offset the use of more than 109,500 gallons of diesel per year. In addition, the project likely will end the power rationing and outages that islanders have endured.
Power from the new microgrid, operated by the American Samoa Power Authority, provides energy for the nearly 600 residents of Ta’u, as well as a hospital, high school and elementary schools, fire and police stations and local businesses. The battery system allows the island to use stored solar energy at night.