American Samoa Island Ta’u shifts From Diesel Generators to Solar

American Samoa
American Samoa is an unincorporated territory, an area controlled by the United States government but not a part of the United States. American Samoa, located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of Samoa, consists of five main islands and two coral atolls (ring-shaped reef). Ta’u is the easternmost of the Samoan islands.

Ta’u has only 17 square miles, and a population of around 1,000 people, until now relied entirely only on diesel generators for their electricity. But for the residents of this island, it had always been an unfavourable situation to depend on diesel generators. Because of the remote location, diesel arrives there only by sea, turning out to be very expensive and unpredictable. They always had to rely on the shipment of fuel. And few times they ran very low on fuel disrupting their day to day activities.

In 2015, the American Samoa Power Authority began seeking help with a project that would save Ta’u from the inconvenience, high fuel costs, and greenhouse gas emissions due to diesel generators.

SolarCity, which was recently acquired by Tesla, responded to this appeal. And Ta’u is now equipped with all new microgrid, by solar power generation capacity of 1.4 megawatts and 6 megawatt-hours of battery storage. This is enough to power the entire island day and night. The entire project was personally looked after by Peter Rive, co-founder and chief technology officer of SolarCity. The system is composed of more than 5,000 SolarCity solar panels and 60 Tesla Powerpack battery storage systems. This solar power plant will save approximately 110,000 gallons of diesel per annum. As per the U.S. Energy Information Administration data, the burning of so much diesel amounts to about 2.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

The microgrid is already commissioned and operational. It was completed in less than one year and covered more than 99% of the island’s power needs. The Tesla Powerpack battery system can provide three full days of power to the island without the sun. And this power pack can be fully recharged in just seven hours of sunlight. This project has given a new lifeline to the residents of Ta’u island and eliminated their dependency on diesel generators.

It is important to note that this is a tiny project in the American Samoa Islands territory.  Implementing such solar power projects on the other four larger islands, which are home to nearly 55,000 people would require huge investments.

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