Access to electricity is a foundation of the basic standards of living. Electricity provides better healthcare, education, meals and recreation.
Developed countries enjoy consistent access through large power grids. But connection to a grid is no guarantee of reliable electricity in developing countries, especially in rural areas. Diesel generators are often used, despite costs to health and the environment. And diesel is expensive—about $1.80 per gallon versus 15 cents per kWh for electricity.
The island of Ta’u in American Samoa was a long way from a mainstream grid, and depended on diesel for its electrical needs. But now Ta’u has adopted a new concept in energy design, called microgrids. And that’s caught the attention of civic planners around the globe.
Microgrids use computers to coordinate use of local energy sources and allow local power grids to maintain necessary levels of service, while giving users the ability to independently manage electricity. Ta’u uses these grids, along with solar panels, to supply nearly 100 percent of the island’s power needs from renewable energy.
You can watch the linked video explaining the process behind the island's modernization, and learn more about how microgrids work.