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Clean Energy: Tesla to Power an Entire Island With Solar Energy

Nov 24, 2016 05:01 AM EST
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Elon Musk is definitely taking Tesla's clean energy drive to the next level as the company showcased its ability to run an entire island, Ta's in American Samoa, using just solar energy.

In order to provide enough solar panels and other hardware for Tesla, the company's CEO acquired SolarCity for $2.6 billion. In order to power an entire island with clean energy, solar panel microgrid, and Powerpack batteries were installed on the island. 

In an attempt to showcase to the world the efficacy of Tesla's renewable energy systems, they slowly wired up Ta'u in American Samoa with solar energy panels and batteries for storage. The island used to run on generators. But according to Tesla, the island can run at almost 100 percent using only solar energy to provide power to the 600 residents on the island.

The Ta'u microgrid composed of 5,238 solar panels and 60 Powerpacks for it to work. Although the controversial merger of SolarCity and Tesla still haunts Elon Musk due to SolarCity's non-profitable state, the businessman believes that SolarCity is vital for his grand masterplan of zero fuel use and the harnessing of clean energy.

With the project's Ta'u microgrid, the island can save 109,500 gallons of diesel that fuel the generators. "Factoring in the escalating cost of fuel, along with transporting such mass quantities to the small island, the financial impact is substantial," a Tesla official said in a statement.

Not only is diesel more expensive, the scarcity of supply also becomes somewhat of a challenge for the residents. "I recall a time they weren't able to get the boat out here for two months," Keith Ahsoon, a Ta'u resident said in a statement. "We rely on that boat for everything, including importing diesel for the generators for all of our electricity. Once diesel gets low, we try to save it by using it only for mornings and afternoons," Ahsoon added.

The Ta'u microgrid was completed after almost a year but the benefits foreseen are long-term, both environmental and financial. Experts say Tesla chose a fitting model to test their microgrid. Ta'u with only 600 residents uses only a moderate amount of energy. The success of this experiment will determine how plausible Musk and Tesla's dream of zero use of fossil fuel for energy.

The solar farm in Ta'u in American Samoa can supply 1.4 megawatts of solar power to the residents or it can also be stored in Tesla Powerpacks also installed on the island.

 

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