We may have made way into the 21st century but there are still many places on the earth that are far from the mainland. Many of the world’s famous tourist destinations are islands but there is also the hard reality to believe that thousands of these beautiful archipelagos have no access to a conventional utility grid. Whether they are uninhabited or serve the purpose as commercial ports or for leisure, many rely on diesel generators for lighting them up. Located 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts in the Atlantic is the trendy island town of Nantucket. The town was once the home of the largest whaling fleet on the planet but is now sustained by just two cables that connect it to an onshore grid on the mainland. The island depends on generators that run on diesel. This is a backup option in the case of cables failing.
Over the years Nantucket has become a famous tourist destination. Many people spending their summer vacations on the island which has a population of just over 10,000. Many rich and famous people spend time here which has led to increasing in electricity demand on the island. The situation has become even more critical for the natives as the backup generators have grown old and obsolete. With connectivity and supply constraints, the local authorities have no plans to replace or fix them in the near future. The National Grid, the company tasked with supplying power to the island is facing a quite tricky situation. Either the company invests huge bucks in laying down a third undersea transmission cable or buys two diesel generators instead. So the company has come with a more viable and promising alternative. The company will now be installing grid-scale battery installation on the island. The company has joined hands with electric service giant Tesla to install 200 of its Powerpack batteries on Nantucket. The total storage capacity of the batteries would be 48 MWh and one more new generator would also be installed.
It was not an overnight decision for National Grid. The company went through a phase of intense exploration before deciding to go ahead with the unique solution. The battery energy system and a new generator looked more of a viable solution in case of any failures with the electricity cables in the future. The new battery system would delay the requirement of a third cable to another 15 to 20 years. According to the company, the battery system and new generator is an effective way to counter the electricity issues faced by the island habitats. The battery storage facility would have an investment of $4.7 million by the Department of Energy Resources. The department grants monetary benefits to companies that innovate in the field of electricity and reduce demand for gas in the state of Massachusetts. The department has granted a whopping $996,455 to Tesla for this project. The whole project would reduce the electricity demand in the National Grid territory of the Commonwealth. The results from the installation at Nantucket would form the bases of similar approaches in other parts of the country.
Tesla is certainly looking like an undisputed leader when it comes to supplying electricity and meeting power demands of offshore islands. The company did a commendable job in getting the power supply back online in Kauai and Samoa after Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria. Nantucket is just the first stepping stone to a giant leap of schemes involving power and electricity generation. The installation on Nantucket might hold key to a cleaner and low-carbon future of the world.