Islands in the Pacific Ocean are some of the most applicable places to install solar panels. Since there’s no rail line to haul in coal or natural gas pipeline, islands like Kauai in Hawaii have conventionally generated electricity by shipping in many barrels of diesel fuel. These days, because so many businesses and residences have installed solar power, there’s a greatly little need to burn fossil during the day but at night, the generators kick in. Tesla wants to change all that, with a massive new solar farm and energy storage project on the island.
Much of renewable energy generation is intermittent: solar and wind power generation peaks are often around times of low demand. Hence, Tesla is also offering the Powerpack, a massive battery that can store electricity during the day when supply is ample, and discharge it when demand goes up after the sun goes down. The Kauai project consists of a 52 megawatt-hour battery installation in addition to a 13 megawatt SolarCity solar farm. Tesla and the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, the power company that ordered the project, believe the project will reduce fossil fuel usage by 1.6 million gallons per year. Like with the solar/battery microgrid installed on the island of Ta’u in American Samoa last year, the KIUC project uses Tesla’s Powerpack 2 battery system, built at Tesla’s Gigafactoryin Nevada.
KIUC did not purchase the battery system and solar panels from Tesla outright. Instead, the utility contracted with Tesla to purchase electricity. There’s a 20-year contract in place to buy the solar-generated power for 13.9 cents per kilowatt hour in effect, Tesla is now in the power generation business. It’s the first major solar-plus-storage project for Tesla since its $2.6 billion addition of SolarCity last year. ” It will work with energy providers around the world seeking to overcome barriers in the way of building a renewable and sustainable energy grid of their own”, Tesla said in a statement.
Earlier this year, Tesla opened a massive energy storage facility in Ontario, California that was designed to reduce the need for “costly electricity generators” or “peaker plants” that only run when demand is particularly high. Use of Tesla’s Powerpacks both as replacements for peaker plants and to time-shift renewable power generation appears to be growing in popularity, and the company has a number of projects underway at the industrial, utility and commercial levels.