SolarCity, the largest provider of solar energy services in the United States, has recently brought their services to the island of Ta'u in the American Samoa. The island's energy is now entirely being run by solar panels and batteries, a first of its kind in the world.
SolarCity's project to make Ta'u a 'solar island' came at staggering firsts: laying out 4,000 miles of solar panels and battery microgrids, and keeping the 1.4 megawatts of solar capacity balanced along the thousands of miles' panel range. SolarCity has also teamed up with Tesla to provide backups for the solar battery microgrids.
The entire project took just one year to install and implement, a feat that's been reached with 24/7 round-the-clock work on the field.
"It's always sunny out here, and harvesting that energy from the sun will make me sleep a lot more comfortably at night," says Keith Ahsoon, a local resident and entrepreneur, as he refers to the peace of mind the solar panels can give knowing he can have electricity all throughout the night.
Situated on the U.S. west coast, the island of Ta'u proved to be a challenge to SolarCity as the island has always been highly vulnerable to environmental changes. The island is also deemed a high "Flood Hazard Zone" by the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System.
Due to natural hazards, citizens have always suffered power outages, and so people had to depend on expensive diesel-operated generators and short-term power rationings. This meant businesses, government offices and schools had to close for days, sometimes even weeks. Hospitals were always hit the hardest in the course of these power outages.
With the entire island now running on 100% renewable energy, all 600 residents are given the opportunity to save up for electricity that can run through the night up until the next morning. As the island receives lots of sunshine all throughout the year, getting solar energy is far from the residents' problem.
More so, the island's citizens do not have to rely on expensive diesel-operated generators any longer. It is said that every year, over 109,500 gallons of diesel are used to sustain residents during power outages, which unfortunately happen frequently.
SolarCity's project on the island of Ta'u was funded by the American Samoa Economic Development Authority, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Interior. Currently the microgrids installed across the entire island is being overseen by the American Samoa Power Authority.