Tesla recently brought online its massive Powerpack 2 project with Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative in Hawaii and this makes a remarkable advancement in the world of renewable energy. You might be wondering, why Kauai Islands?
However, You might be wondering, why Kauai Islands?
Well, Islands in the Pacific Ocean are some of the most practical places to install solar panels. Since there’s no natural gas pipeline or rail line to haul in coal, islands like Kauai in Hawaii have traditionally generated electricity by shipping in many barrels of diesel fuel.
These days, because so many residences and businesses have installed solar power, there’s a greatly reduced 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: the wind and solar power generation peaks are often around times of low demand. So Tesla (which changed its name from Tesla Motors last year largely because of projects like this) offers the Powerpack, a massive battery that can store electricity during the day when supply is abundant, and discharge it when demand goes up after the sun goes down.
The Kauai project consists of 52 MWh Tesla Powerpack installation (272 units) with a 13 MW solar farm (~55,000 solar panels) built by SolarCity. The system will help the Island of Kauai get more out of its solar power and retire more diesel generators.
KIUC didn’t purchase the solar panels and battery system 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.
KIUC serves just over 30,000 customers on the remote island and it already has significant solar power capacity, but they have to run diesel generators when the sun is not shining.
They can run 100% on renewables for short periods of times under the best conditions in mid-day if demand is low, but the new Tesla Powerpacks will enable them to achieve 100% renewables more frequently.
Tesla and KIUC expect that it will reduce the use of fossil fuels by approximately 1.6 million gallons per year.
The price is also surprisingly competitive. Under the power purchase agreement, Tesla/SolarCity’s project is currently selling power to Kauai at 11 cents per kWh or third of the cost of electricity generated through burning diesel.
Tesla is finding success with its energy storage systems on remote islands, like its recent microgrid in the Island of Ta’u. This new project is, however larger in size and tesla has revealed that the ultimate goal is to keep replicating these projects at larger scales. I guess it is only a matter of time before Elon Musk and tesla spread these innovations to Africa.
To learn more about this project, watch the video below: