- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 10 Dec 2019
Tau - the solar powered island
In November 2016, a small island in American Samoa switched almost entirely to solar power.
The island of Ta’u is more than 4,000 miles from the West Coast of the United States and has a population of just 600, but it could demonstrate what can be achieved when determination and strong will demand a shift from fossil fuel-dependency to renewable energy.
The island has constructed a solar power and battery storage-enabled microgrid. This supplies nearly all of the island’s power. The microgrid was provided by contractors SolarCity and Tesla, engineers from whom flew to the island from California to oversee the construction process.
Heretofore, Ta’u had previously been dependent on more than 100,000 gallons of diesel a year, shipped from the main island of Tutuila. This supply had been prone to disruption due to bad weather and rough seas causing power intermittency and frequenet outages.
Microgrid solutions harnessing solar power and energy storage offer cost savings, as well as being a safer and cleaner alternative to diesel. Ta’u’s microgrid is designed to optimise system performance and maximise savings. The batteries allow stored solar energy to be used at night, with residents hoping this will mean energy rationing is a thing of the past.
The project was funded by the American Samoa Economic Development Authority, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Interior. The microgrid will be operated by the American Samoa Power Authority.
At around US$80-100 per month, the power bills for an average island household will remain the same, but it is expected that there will be significant financial advantages from being self-sufficient and no longer having to ship diesel to the island. Indeed, neighbouring islands Ofu and Olosega plan to follow T’au’s example.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
A simple path to possible error avoidance.
Construction + technology = ConTech.
New low and high tech tools enter the marketplace.
Report looks at mental health in the built environment.
Radiant wall heating method to control rising damp.
What future infrastructure provision might look like.
Highlighting the health benefits of home improvement.
Pavilions for music, entertainment, and leisure. Book review.
Broadening our understanding of Dublin’s chequered social history.
The charm of London's Cabmen's shelters.
Future Weather Files research tool looking for feedback.
Exploring the Colour Rendering Index.
Why it's important to find out what went wrong.
ECA reviews the shape of the construction job market.
Why proper room acoustics make a difference.
Initiative puts gas networks on the path to net zero.
WICE Woman Architectural Technologist of the Year 2019.