Tesla and SolarCity electrify a small island in the South Pacific

Tesla recently acquired SolarCity, a solar energy service provider founded by Elon Musk's cousins Peter and Lyndon Rive (SolarCity's CTO and CEO). Musk is also a SolarCity chairman. Now that SolarCity's part of the Tesla family, it's showcasing its abilities as it electrifies the remote American Samoan island of Ta'u, 2,600 miles from Hawaii, 4,800 miles from US mainland, and 2,500 miles from Australia.

Up to this point, Ta'u has run on diesel power, with generators strewn around the 17-square mile volcanic island with a single road, and the solution has posed some great logistic problems for its 600 residents. To change that, Tesla and SolarCity joined forces in providing a microgrid for the island. In addition to 1.4 megawatts of solar generation capacity from 5,328 SolarCity panels, 60 Tesla Powerpacks yield six megawatt hours of battery storage, and it all took under a year to implement. With the Powerpacks, energy is available 24/7 without outages or bottlenecks. SolarCity says the island project was funded by Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Interior, and the American Samoa Economic Development Authority.

Still, SolarCity will pose a financial challenge for Tesla. Reports say that despite being a major solar energy player with almost 110,000 installations in 2015 – more than any other company – SolarCity spends six dollars for every single dollar it makes. Tesla will do whatever it takes to direct attention to solar energy production and storage, and recent introductions in Tesla's product portfolio include its Solar Roof tiles, which are virtually indistinguishable from regular roof tiles, and the second generation Powerwall battery.

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