Tesla and SolarCity’s union is still very fresh, but the combined companies are already highlighting what they’ve been able to accomplish even just as partners. The SolarCity blog details a project in which SolarCity power generation and Tesla Powerpack-based storage helped the small island of Ta’u in American Samoa fix its spotty power problem and cut its reliance on a diesel generator grid.
The diesel reliance isn’t new – a lot of island communities rely on burning the fossil fuel in order to maintain an electrical grid. But use of a fuel that must be shipped in at considerable cost and from a great distance poses a number of problems, and leads to a lot of temporary blackouts. Solar’s costs are typically recouped over a long period of time when grid power is convenient and readily available, but the financial benefits should accrue much more quickly when you’re shipping in and burning fuel as your only source of energy.
The Ta’u grid project involved creating a SolarCity panel array made up of over 5,300 panels capable of generating 1.4 megawatts of solar capacity, combined with a Tesla Powerpack commercial battery storage facility with 6 megawatt hours of reserve capability across 60 Powerpacks. The resulting micro grid can provide three full days of power for the island’s 600 residents at max capacity, and recharges fully after just seven hours of solid sunlight exposure.
Tesla hopes that the Ta’u project can serve as an example of what is possible in solar power going forward. Sweden has already announced it’s commitment to become a fossil fuel-free nation. As Telsa’s solar powered battery technology improves, more cities and even countries will see the feasibility and benefits of moving away from fossil fuels.