Pago Pago, American Samoa, April 19, 2012 — SunWize Technologies, Inc., a provider of sustainable energy solutions, recently completed the largest solar installation on the island of American Samoa in the South Pacific.
The ASPA's new system consists of 7308 Sharp solar panels in a fixed, ground-mount system — the largest of its kind anywhere in the South Pacific. Because land is at a premium in American Samoa, the new system was installed on a 3.93-acre site near the island's airport runway, with 2 additional acres reserved as an overflow site.
The ASPA project faced other challenges in addition to the island's remote location. Since the installation site is located a mere 1,100 feet from the ocean, SunWize had to engineer a custom, hot-dip galvanized racking system to withstand the extremely corrosive ocean air.
The potential for 150-mile-per-hour typhoon-force winds required SunWize to secure its racking system with special footings that could be installed even with the island's volcanic rock soil and limited concrete resources. During the project's installation phase, SunWize hired a number of local subcontractors, employing 50 Samoans to assist with a variety of tasks.
Despite having to manage a number of complex situations, Garvison and the SunWize team knew that the project's eventual results would be extremely positive American Samoa's location near the equator receives over 1,000 watts per square meter at peak hours of the day, an amount that's ideal for solar.
The availability of solar energy may also lower American Samoa's electrical rates in the future. Residents and business owners currently pay around $0.40 per kilowatt; however, 75 percent of that amount goes toward a fuel surcharge that the ASPA must pay its diesel suppliers.