SolarCity: The world's most innovative island

SolarCity is innovating and transforming a small island called Ta'u, 6500 km off the West Coast of the United States.

It has luscious landscape, and unique ocean views make it a picturesque location. But, it is the innovation on the island that is turning heads right now. For a long time, the people of Ta'u lived with the challenges associated with many remote locations. They have relied on boats for so many things and needs.

Keith Ahsoon, a food store owner, and a resident said of all the peculiar issues faced on the island, reliable and affordable power was the most saddening. “We rely on that boat for everything especially, importing diesel for the generators for all of our electricity. Once diesel gets low, we try to save it by using it only for mornings and afternoons. “Water systems here also use pumps, everyone in the village uses and depends on that. It’s hard to live not knowing what’s going to happen.

However, these concerns are now set to become a reference point, with the island host to solar power and battery storage enabled microgrid, which is capable of supplying nearly 100 percent of the power needs of the island.

The microgrid is enabled by 60 Tesla Powerpacks, has 1.4 megawatts of solar generation capacity and 6-megawatt hours of battery storage. With 5328 solar panel units, the entire island can have solar power for three days, with the system fully recharging after seven hours of sunlight.

Mr. Ahsoon concluded by saying that moving to renewable energy was a cost-saving alternative to diesel and removed the hazards of power intermittency to the 600 residents on Ta’u. “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 said.

This solar project was Funded by the Department of Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency and the American Samoa Economic Development Authority. The investment is expected to offset the annual diesel consumption of more than 414,500 liters.

Mr. Ashoon said he was happy to be part of history. “This project will help lessen the carbon footprint of the world. Living on an island, you experience global warming first-hand,” he said. “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.”

Tesla recently acquired SolarCity in a deal worth roughly $2 billion.
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