Ocracoke, a small island off North Carolina, has installed 10 first-generation
Tesla Powerpacks and a small solar array that will help reduce demand charges and
maintain reliability in the event the mainland transmission link goes down.
The microgrid will provide 1 MW, 1 MWh of storage, utilizing a 15 kW solar array
and a bank of smart thermostats for demand response.
Tesla batteries are increasingly being used to power remote grids; last year an
island in American Samoa installed 60 Tesla Powerpack batteries providing 6 MWh of energy.
There are less than 1,000 permanent residents on Ocracoke, but the island’s unspoiled beaches attract throngs of tourists every summer. Good for the local economy, but not power bills. Linked to the mainland by a single transmission line, demand charges drive up costs while reliability is strained during storms.
North Carolina Electric Membership Corp. owns a 3 MW diesel generator on the island to help reduce demand charges, and now the new microgrid will add carbon-free energy to the reliability backstop. Microgrid Knowledge reports the local utility, Tideland Electric Membership, has also installed 150 Ecobee smart thermostats to help shift demand during peak times.
The project is similar, albeit much smaller, to the microgrid Tesla helped install on the island of Ta’u, in American Samoa. Powered by a 1.4 MW solar system and Tesla batteries supplying 6 MWh of energy, the island is poised to go 100% renewable. The island was previously dependent on petroleum imports to run diesel generators.
As the cost of battery storage drops and interest in microgrids rises, Tesla is producing as much capacity as it can. Earlier this year the company said it had begun mass production of battery cells at its Nevada Gigafactory, an enormous facility that by 2018 will be producing 35 GWh/year.
Currently the factory is producing cells that will be used in Tesla’s Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2 batteries, and cells for its Model 3 cars will begin production in the second quarter.