When big league players get together, everyone can bet the game is going to be worth watching. SolarCity and Tesla combined forces and brains and a year ago started implementing a project that helps the small paradise island of Ta’u in American Samoa to break free from diesel and to embrace solar power.
The Ta’u island had relied on diesel-powered electricity generators for a long time. Diesel is expensive, and so is transporting it to the island, not to mention the pollution associated with this activity.
However, supposing that transport and cost were not an issue, other unpredicted scenarios may appear, and did appear, and they left the inhabitants of Ta’u in blackouts over and over again.
Solar power is not new – isolated communities have been relying on it for decades, the issue was so far the cost of a serious multi-megawatt solar installation.
5,300 SolarCity solar panels were installed on the island. They can generate 1.4 megawatts of energy. Combined with a 6 megawatt-hour Tesla Powerpack (actually an array of 60), the resulting solar installation can produce power for the 600 inhabitants for three days per charge. The pack charges completely after just seven hours of full-sun exposure, which means blackouts will be history for these guys.
It took a year to finish the project that was funded by the EPA, the Department of Interior and the American Samoa Economic Development Authority. While these names may raise an eyebrow on some skeptic faces, saying “why did the government have to pour money again into Elon Musk’s projects,” this particular installation is a pilot testing ground that proves how well a solar power installation can fit anywhere and how reliable it can be.
The Ta’u experiment can also help Tesla in testing the technology in real life conditions to find out the eventual faults that need to be fixed.
When big league players get together, the game is hot. But it’s also sad that Tesla is in the news each and every day, and others are just not entering this field as victorious. Energy may be even more promising than cars, and Elon knows that. Those who join the bandwagon on this game surely can’t lose.