Powering an Island

As I was preparing a long, detailed post about the transportation trade-offs of various sources of energy and the long-term value in focusing on sustainable sources as they relates to resiliency, I came across an unbelievable article. This article detailed how Tesla and its newly acquired solar giant SolarCity plan on powering a small island of 600 residents using only solar energy.

Although this may not seem like groundbreaking news, the island of Ta’u has previously been powered by massive diesel generators. These generators have used up to 109,500 gallons of diesel fuel each year, which doesn’t factor in the energy costs of transporting the fuel to the island. By transitioning to a completely solar-powered island, Tesla will save money for residents while showing off the value of SolarCity and solar technology.

Tesla will implement this solar transition through the use of microgrids and Tesla Powerpacks. Over the course of a year, SolarCity installed solar panels capable of 1.4 megawatts of generation with 60 Powerpacks capable of storing 6-megawatt hours. This transition will allow for residents to have cheaper, affordable, and more consistent use of energy while creating a safer and more sustainable model for their development.

Although this is only a small step on a small island in American Samoa, this is a reason to celebrate. Companies like Tesla and SolarCity are providing models for sustainable development that have real impacts on the material conditions of residents. These models should be embraced as an opportunity to create a healthier and more equitable future. In under a year, an entire island made the transition. Imagine what could be done with the resources of New York City, New York State, or the Federal Government fully behind a project to transition population centers.


The solar development that will power Ta’u.