Embracing the Next Energy Revolution: Electricity Storage

By Joshua S Hill for Renew Economy

Hawaii to add more than 1GWh of storage as it heads to 100% renewables

The Hawaiian Electric Company is in contract negotiations with developers to add seven solar-plus-storage projects which would bring a total of 1,055MWh of storage and 260MW worth of solar capacity to three of the state’s islands, representing the largest infusion of renewable energy and storage capacity in the island state’s history.

The negotiations are expected to yield long-term contracts on the islands of Oahu, Maui, and Hawai’i. The seven projects include:

  • On Oahu, three projects totalling approximately 120MW of solar and 515MWh of storage
  • On Maui, two projects totalling approximately 75MW of solar and 300MWh of storage
  • On Hawaii Island, two projects totalling approximately 60MW of solar and 240MWh of storage

“These large-scale solar and battery projects will accelerate our renewable energy drive at some of the lowest prices we’ve seen to date,” said Shelee Kimura, senior vice president of business development and strategic planning for the Hawaiian Electric Company.

“With support from our communities, these projects will reduce our reliance on fossil fuel and cut greenhouse gas emissions while benefitting all with low-cost renewable energy.”

Each of the solar projects will be connected to a storage system that is expected to provide at least four hours of stored electricity that, according to Hawaiian Electric Company, will serve to “further reduce fossil fuel use in the evening or other times when the sun isn’t shining.”

Overall, these seven projects, if approved by the state’s Public Utilities Commission, will displace a total of 1.2 million barrels of fossil fuel-equivalent per year.

Further, the planned capacity builds on an existing 500MW of renewable energy capacity under contract by the Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light companies, as well as a further 80,000 private rooftop systems.

The move builds on Hawai’i’s 2015 direction to state utilities to generate 100% of their electricity sales from renewable energy sources by 2045.

This was followed up a year and a half later by the Hawaiian Electric Companies detailed plan outlining how they would likely beat each of the interim goals (2020, 2030, and 2040) and reach 100% by the end of 2040, five years ahead of the deadline.

This procurement phase was initiated in February with the intent of expanding the Companies’ renewable energy portfolios. Working with the Public Utilities Commission, the Hawaiian Electric Companies increased their original procurement scope for Hawai’i Island from 20MW to 60MW, expedited project selection, and upped the number of projects expected for this phase of procurement.

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