August 30, 2017

Harvard firm's solar microgrid half-powers Mass. island

Courtesy/Solar Design Associates
Now operational, this solar array has made up half of Cuttyhunk Island's power this summer.

A Harvard solar company announced Wednesday a solar array it designed and installed on Cuttyhunk Island providing more than half of the island's electricity during its busy summer season.

The array from Solar Design Associates of Harvard also stored energy for nighttime power.

According to a press release, the combination of solar and storage provides more than 80 percent of off-season electricity as the summertime population of 300 shrinks to about 50 year-rounders.

Previously, the small island of less than a square mile at the outer edge of the Elizabeth Islands in Massachusetts relied on diesel-powered generation, but the new array -- completed in April -- now provides 351.9 kilowatts and 1,000 kilowatt hours of electric storage.

Paul Elias, a member of the Gosnold Electric Light Commission overseeing the town-owned utility, said the island is now on track to burn 30,000 fewer gallons of diesel fuel this year due to the microgrid.

"That is an excellent benefit for the environment of this unique place and major cost savings for the community," Elias said in the press release.

The company is developing a similar project on Isle au Haut in Maine expected to provide 100 percent of its electricity and eliminate a 35-year-old undersea electric cable for the island's 140 seasonal and year-round customers.


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