Tesla, the Elon Musk-run company that is changing the world of cars and energy forever, is gearing up to sell energy to the island of Kauai. That’s because they’ve engineered the Kauai project, which will consist of a 53 megawatt-hour battery installation plus a 13 megawatt SolarCity solar farm on the Hawaii island. They believe the project will reduce fossil fuel usage by 1.6 million gallons per year. Wow is right.
Because Kauai is an island, they’re generally off the electrical grid. This means that, at least at night, they need to generate energy with diesel fuel that they have shipped in. But now that Tesla has engineered the Powerpack, a huge battery that stores electricity during the day and lets it loose at night, they can easily scale up solar arrays as needs arise.
The project is being coordinated by the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, and will be modeled after a similar array set up on the island of Ta’u in American Samoa last year. But instead of just buying the power packs from Tesla, the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative is buying the electricity generated by Tesla’s solar farm. They’ve penned a 20-year contract, which makes it a pilot project for Tesla as an energy provider.
In a promotional video released by Tesla on their YouTube channel, the company explains that the new solar array will consist of about 55,000 panels and 272 powerpacks, the devices that store the energy. Because the island gets so much sunlight, the solar farm will be able to power much of the island every night and reduce the island of 66,000 people’s dependence on fossil fuel.
Seems like a win for all parties involved, as long as it doesn’t affect energy prices for the citizens of Kauai, but there’s no indication that anything of the sort will happen.