In the last 7 years, clean energy has become a saving grace of humanity, and I mean that quite literally. Climate change, oil drilling, fossil fuel droughts, and the pure inability to sustain perennial gasoline-driven growth for a burgeoning population have made renewable energy an incredibly desired and lucrative industry. Now, two of the biggest players in the field, Tesla and SolarCity, have joined forces in a collaborative effort to fundamentally change the way we interact and harness the energy that drives us. Their effort to revolutionize the island of Ta’u, and power it exclusively using solar energy, presents us with a tinge of hope. It presents the possibility of a future where renewable energy is the norm. My gas guzzling Hyundai might forge the boundaries of the present, but I guarantee its obsolesce in the very near future.
Ta’u is a quaint island in the American Samoa, defined more by its lacking Wikipedia page and meek population of 800, than its developing role as the brainchild of Elon Musk. Its claim to fame, however, is a result of the numerous diesel generators that, up until last week, powered the island and its residents. These generators, like something out of a bad WWII movie, were inefficient and in every sense harmful for the environment. One of the generators burns almost 110,000 gallons of fuel a year. That’s a hell of a lot of fuel. Tesla, with SolarCity bootstrapped to its underbelly, saw Ta’u as prime pickings to demonstrate their newest joint battery technology, and haven’t looked back since.
By installing 5300 solar panels and integrating them with sixty Tesla powerpacks, which can accumulate up to 6 Megawatt hours of storage, the island is now able to stay powered for up to three days without a glimmer of sunlight. The fusion of technology, next-generation ambition, and the overwhelmingly traditional setting of Ta’u make for one of the world’s most advanced microgrids. Imagine a diesel-free future, where communities are powered not by materials that drive us into the ground, but from the world’s most abundant source of energy. It’s a truly incredible turnaround for a society that has inured us to such a backwards way of thinking.
Beyond all of the technicalities, however, I love this idea for its sheer novelty, ambition, and purpose. So many of us dismiss clean energy, not for its potential, but rather because the ideologies and habits that currently define us oppose it in every way, shape, and form. It’s this rigid mantra we need to let go of.
While renewable technology might not have a dominating presence in your life, open your mind to its future; Tesla fully recognizes our parochialism and underscores that the “dumbest experiment in human history” is to wait until it’s too late.
If this article has given you nothing, all I ask is that you imagine yourself in a world where the infrastructure around you is powered by a nearly infinite life source, one that doesn’t damage the environment, and one that will enable further progress for our planet. It’s an astounding future, one that we should all be damn well ready for.