Tesla and SolarCity powering entire island with solar power

Posted Nov 22, 2016 by Karen Graham
SolarCity, the solar energy company acquired by Tesla on Monday, announced it is running nearly the entire island of Ta'u in American Samoa on a solar energy microgrid.
A microgrid array consisting of 5 328 solar panels powers Ta u Island in American Samoa.
A microgrid array consisting of 5,328 solar panels powers Ta'u Island in American Samoa.
SolarCity's panel array is made up of over 5,300 solar panels that can generate 1.4 megawatts of solar generation capacity, along with 60 Tesla powerpacks that offer six-megawatt hours of energy storage, for those occasional days when it might be overcast.
Engadget is reporting the powerpacks, Tesla's large commercial batteries, can keep the island running for three days without sunlight, even though Ta'u is normally always sunny. The whole microgrid system can fully recharge itself with just seven hours of sunlight.
The amazing thing about the project, funded by the American Samoa Economic Development Authority, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Interior, is that it only took a year to complete, reports Business Insider.
But the island was the perfect place to install the microgrid. The island has 600 residents and is located about 4,000 miles from the West Coast of the United States. Until this week, when the grid began operating, the island depended on diesel fuel to run the generators that provided electricity.
Of course, the power needs of the residents on Ta'u are relatively small, compared to the solar energy that would be needed to power a big city, especially in places where cloudy days are more commonplace, but Ta'u does serve as a good example of what is possible using solar energy, according to the SolarCity Blog.
And Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk's mission is to wean the world off fossil fuels. Musk hopes the Ta'u Island project will inspire other customers, and he believes the solar battery portion of the business will one day actually exceed the market for Teslas because there are plenty of places where reliable, solar power needs far exceed the need for an electric vehicle, reports TechCrunch.