In just one year, Tesla and SolarCity created a solar-powered island

Lulu Chang
Digital Trends

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Island living may sound like dream, but despite those white sandy beaches, tropical weather, and seemingly endless sunshine, the dream can sometimes turn nightmarish. That was particularly true for the island of Ta’u in American Samoa, which sits over 4,000 miles away from the California coastline, and has become accustomed to power rationing, electricity outages, and similar issues.

But thanks to a new partnership between Tesla and SolarCity, Ta’u is now leveraging its sunbathed location to its advantage by way of a new “solar power and battery storage-enabled microgrid that can supply nearly 100 percent of the island’s power needs from renewable energy,” as per a SolarCity blog post.

The impressive achievement was made possible by SolarCity’s power generation and Tesla Powerpack-based storage, and has since given residents of the island a cost-efficient alternative to diesel and other fossil fuels, and just as importantly, a reliable energy source. Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the new eco-friendly solution, however, lies in its timeline. As SolarCity notes, “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.”

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It’s a game changer for Ta’u residents, who can now rest easy knowing that their schools, law enforcement stations, and local businesses will constantly have the power they need to operate, and without killing killing anyone’s budget (or the planet), either. “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,” said Keith Ahsoon, whose family owns and runs one of the island’s food stores.

And with Ta’u as a case study for what is possible, the microgrid solution may soon find further opportunities for implementation. “Today, microgrid solutions featuring solar power and energy storage cost less than diesel almost anywhere in the world and are a cleaner, safer alternative,” SolarCity pointed out. “Solar and storage systems also eliminate expenses and issues associated with shipping diesel, and provide stable power costs for decades, unlike fluctuating fossil fuel prices — all by simply switching to the power of the sun.