Ta’u is the largest island in the American Samoa archipelago, situated in the south pacific ocean, over four thousand miles away from the west coast of the United States. The power needs of the remote island has so far been met with diesel-based generators, that were shipped to the island. Unplanned outages and rationing were part of daily life. The islanders had to turn on the generators for power only in the mornings and evening when the diesel got low.
SolarCity, that was recently acquired by Tesla, has implemented the world’s most advanced microgrid on the island over the course of a year. 1.4 megawatts of renewable energy is generated from an array of solar panels, that is stored in 60 Tesla powerpacks. The microgrid can provide nearly hundred percent of the energy requirements of the island, using an environmentally friendly source of energy. The batteries can hold enough power to power the island for three days, over the course of a seven hour charge.
Keith Ahsoon, one of the six hundred residents on the island, said “This is part of making history. 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”
The critical infrastructure on the island, including the hospital, the high school, the elementary schools, the fire stations, the police stations and the local businesses no longer have to worry about unscheduled blackouts and rationing. The microgrid is operated by the American Samoa Power Authority. The funding of the project was split three ways between the American Samoa Economic Development Authority, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Interior. The microgrid is expected to deliver the equivalent of 414,502 litres of diesel being burned every year.