Massachusetts’ Cuttyhunk Island is the latest island and vacation destination to transition its energy supply from diesel to solar and storage to save money. The new microgrid combines a 352 kilowatt solar array with 1 megawatt of battery storage, provided a majority of the island’s power needs during the height of this summer’s tourist season. This winter, as the population drops to 50 people, the microgrid will provide 80 percent of Cuttyhunk’s energy needs.
“We’ve been delighted with the performance of the system Solar Design Associates engineered and installed, and they have been superb to work with. The microgrid’s performance and reliability have exceeded all our expectations, and we are on track to burn 30,000 fewer gallons of diesel fuel this year. That is an excellent benefit for the environment of this unique place and major cost savings for the community,” said Paul Elias of the Gosnold Electric Light Commission, Cuttyhunk Island’s electric utility.
Solar and wind-powered microgrids are proving successful in reducing Hawaii’s reliance on imported diesel for electric generation. For instance, SolarCity partnered with the Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative in 2015 to install a 52 megawatt-hour battery system that provides up to 13 megawatts of electricity to the utility’s customers during peak demand periods.
“Solar-plus-storage is clearly the next frontier for renewable energy, and the Cuttyhunk project validates the extraordinary benefits this innovative approach can deliver for cost, reliability, and sustainability at community scale,” said Steven J. Strong president of Solar Design Associates, which developed, constructed and maintains the microgrid. “While solar plus storage is an especially compelling approach for island communities dependent on high-cost diesel generators or costly to maintain cables, we’ve developed solar plus storage solutions for commercial, industrial, and utility customers as well.”
Cuttyhunk is the westernmost of the Elizabeth Islands and is one of the least populated regions in the Commonwealth State. Relying entirely on diesel to power the island in the past, the microgrid decreases carbon emissions and saves the community the costs of shipping fuel by boat and maintaining diesel burning generators.
Solar Design Associates is also developing a microgrid system for the Isle au Haut Electricity Company in Maine, providing the island’s 140 full-time residents with 100 percent of their electricity. The microgrid will eliminate the island’s dependence on a 35-year-old under water cable that transported electricity to Isle au Haut, which was inefficient, unreliable and expensive to maintain.Tweet