MAR 22, 2017 10:05 AM PDT

Kauai's Massive New Solar Farm

Not so long ago Tesla released their novel technology, a residential power-storage solution called Powerwall that uses batteries to store energy from solar panels so that people can power their homes with clean energy even when the sun is not shining. Now Tesla has expanded the Powerwall into the Powerpack - which is basically 16 Powerwall battery pods encased in a weatherproof box - and implemented it in the new 55,000-panel solar farm on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The solar farm is connected to 272 lithium Powerpacks, which are capable of storing a combined 52 megawatt-hours of power.

Photo: Tesla

So why Kauai? Islands in the Pacific Ocean receive so much sun that they are practically begging for solar power. Recently there has been a spike in solar technology in Hawaii because the only other traditionally generated electricity is shipping in millions of barrels of diesel fuel - obviously a huge cost environmentally and economically. Yet until now there has been a dilemma, because sun and wind power is so intermittent and generation peaks are often around times of low demand.The Powerpack provides the answer.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said of stationary storage: "[It is] something I think will probably be as big as the car business long term. And will actually have a growth rate probably several times that of what the car business is per year. The growth in stationary storage is really under appreciated. That’s a super-exponential growth rate."

The Kauai project is working hand in hand with Tesla’s new acquisition, SolarCity, in the aim of eliminating all non-renewable power sources by 2045, an important goal because Hawaii currently has the highest electric rates in the United States. 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.

The system is similar to an even larger, 396-battery storage system, that Tesa installed in Southern California in January. ArchDaily reports that Tesla founder Elon Musk has claimed that the entire United States could potentially be powered by another 160 or so of these battery storage system plants.

Sources:The Verge, ArchDaily

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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