When you live on a remote island, scarcity is a recurring theme; from food to power to accessibility. The island of Ta’u in American Samoa knows this all too well. Located 4,000 miles (6,400 km) from the west coast of the United States, the island is no stranger to power rationing and outages.
To demonstrate their capabilities, Tesla and Solar City installed a solar power and battery storage-enabled microgrid that can supply nearly 100 percent of the island’s power needs from renewable energy, providing a cost-saving alternative to diesel, removing the hazards of power intermittency and making outages a thing of the past.
The microgrid – 1.4 megawatts of solar generation capacity from SolarCity and Tesla and 6 megawatt hours of battery storage from 60 Tesla Powerpacks – was implemented within just one year from start to finish.
“I recall a time they weren’t able to get the boat out here for two months,” said Keith Ahsoon, a local resident whose family owns one of the food stores on the island. “We rely on that boat for everything, including 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. I remember growing up using candlelight. And now, in 2016, we were still experiencing the same problems.” [source]
The project was funded by the American Samoa Economic Development Authority, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Interior, and is expected to allow the island to save significantly on energy costs. The system is expected to offset the use of more than 109,500 gallons of diesel per year. [source]