SunWize Technologies Inc. says it has completed the largest solar installation on the island of American Samoa in the South Pacific. Backed by the U.S. Department of Energy and the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA), the 1.75 MW solar electric system took more than five months to install. The ASPA's new system consists of 7,308 Sharp solar panels in a fixed, ground-mounted installation.
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 two additional acres reserved as an overflow site.
‘American Samoa's location made this particular project uniquely challenging,’ notes Paul Garvison, senior vice president of projects at SunWize. ‘Even the most basic components we needed for this project were not available on the island.’
Additionally, because the installation site is located just 1,100 feet from the ocean, SunWize needed 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.