Tesla powers an island

Tesla has recently agreed to merge with Solar City. To help publicise the merger, Solar City recently published this YouTube Video about a solar installation using Tesla’s ‘power pack’ batteries that now powers the island of Ta’u in American Samoa.

In Google Earth we can see the solar array under construction:

Ta’u is not the first island to be powered by solar. The nearby Island of Tokelau has been powered by solar since 2013. Sadly, the imagery is a bit old (a recurring theme in this post) and we cannot see the solar panels. The Danish island of Samso claims to be the first island in the world to go 100% renewable, but we could not find any imagery of their wind turbines.

A common complaint about renewables such as solar and wind, is what to do when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. Tesla solves this problem with batteries. But another island, El Hierro, one of the Canary Islands, uses pumped water storage combined with wind turbines.

Moving away from islands, we had a look at this Wikipedia list of the largest photovoltaic power stations in the world (over 100 MW). Solar has really taken off around the world in the last few years, and Google Earth imagery can’t keep up. The second on the list, Kamuthi Solar Power Project, was built in just a few months between June and September 2016 and no sign of it can be seen in current Google Earth imagery. Top of the list is Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China, which can be seen in Landsat imagery when zoomed out, but as you zoom in to higher resolution satellite imagery, it disappears, as the high resolution imagery was captured before it was built.

Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China.

We have put together this KML file which includes the above mentioned islands as well as the list from Wikipedia where coordinates are given.

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.


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