Hawaiian island to meet evening demand with 52MWh solar storage battery

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

A solar farm connected to a huge battery will be built on the Hawaiian island of Kauai to use solar in the evenings to meet peak demand, under a 20-year contract between SolarCity and an electric utility co-operative.

As much as 95% of daytime demand on Kauai is met by solar at present but Kaua’I Island Utility Co-operative (KIUC) is keen to extend that further. SolarCity’s grid-connected project still requires approval at county and state level as well as from the state’s regulator, the Public Utilities’ Commission, but if it gets the go-ahead will see a 52MWh utility-scale battery facility built to deal with up to 13MW of solar power.

The project was announced close to the first anniversary of the completion by SolarCity of a 12MW solar farm on the island, which began supplying about 5% of Kauai’s electricity when it was connected in September last year.

The new power plant and storage facility should be able to provide electricity from the solar array between the hours of 5pm and 10pm each day, when the evening peak occurs. It has been well documented that Hawaii, with high dependence on imported fossil fuels and consequently suffering the highest electricity prices in the US, has fostered development of a high penetration of solar, targeting that 65% of its energy will come from renewables by 2030. It is thought that as well as reducing emissions and improving energy security, this would lower the cost of energy for normal consumers.

The island state’s present circumstances, coupled with the relatively high variability of solar and wind resources, has led to Hawaii looking to energy storage as one of the primary resources to help integrate clean energy. The state is one of the world’s 10 leading regions for deployment of storage, according to a US government Department of Energy database, and its island grid situation has led to it being considered something of a global test case and cause celebre for the integration of renewables into energy networks. PV Tech Storage has frequently reported on storage projects, including those paired with solar, on the islands, including off-grid communities and grid-connected storage operating on trial and pilot project terms.

The Kauai solar-plus-storage project would be built on a 20-hectare site owned by an agricultural company and close to an existing KIUC power station facility. KIUC asked for permission to accelerate development of the project, which must begin work by April next year and be in operation by 31 December 2016 to qualify for the higher rate of investment tax credits (ITCs) at 30%. Currently, storage is eligible for the ITC if it is installed at the same time as a PV array, effectively being characterised as part of the system, along with the inverter and BoS components.   

SolarCity had yet to reveal any technical details of the project, although the company’s partner on storage systems is of course the EV maker Tesla, which has supplied the installation and leasing company with energy storage systems for its DemandLogic commercial offering, while SolarCity is already taking orders for Powerwall, Tesla’s forthcoming residential storage product.

‘Price and technology breakthrough’

The cost of energy from the facility sold by SolarCity will undercut “the current costs of conventional generation”, KIUC said, continuing that it will be “only slightly more” expensive than the daytime electricity generated by the co-operative’s two existing 12MW utility-scale PV plants.

“KIUC has been investigating energy storage options for more than two years and price has always been the biggest challenge. This is a breakthrough project on technology and on price that enables us to move solar energy to the peak demand hours in the evening and reduce the amount of fossil fuel we’re using,” KIUC’s president and CEO David Bissell said.

11 May 2021
Join this Talesun Solar webinar focused on providing an insight into the company’s next-generation series of large-area, high-efficiency PERC (Passivated Emitter Rear Cell) modules. These are available in both monofacial (‘BiStar’) and bifacial (‘BiPro’) formats, using 182mm half-cut cells in 144 and 156 cell configurations and provide up to 590Wp performance with efficiencies of up to 21.2%.
11 May 2021
Green Hydrogen: always the future never the now? Join us on 11-12 & 18-19 May for a fresh look at what’s fast becoming a reality. Governments across the world have put hydrogen at the centre of their decarbonisation plans with billions of dollars allocated to stimulating the market and whilst individual strategies will differ, the theme is the same: green hydrogen is the fuel of the future. Its role goes beyond energy use and there is already an active off-take market. From the perspective of renewable generators, hydrogen can play a pivotal role in enabling unsubsidised projects to work in a low power price environment and provide another business model in areas where the grid is congested. Hydrogen could also be the driver of a new wave of renewable installations as countries’ hydrogen plans hinge on new capacity being available.
26 May 2021
Tara Doyle and Tristan Erion-Lorico of PV Evolution Labs (PVEL), will share this year’s top-performing modules and discuss key findings from PVEL’s PQP testing. Join us to explore which find out which new Top Performer category can affect project value by more than $100,000 – and which test resulted in >20% degradation.
15 June 2021
Looking at the drivers and dynamics of utility scale solar in the UK over the next five years. This event will consider the immediate challenges as we enter the build phase in the UK market where we could see as much as 3GW deployed in 2021 alone! What developments will continue the growth of 100MW+ sites and what impact will government policy have on the rate of deployment in the UK? Join leading developers and manufacturers shaping the direction of one of Europe’s most active markets and hear from speakers with a history of influencing innovation and change.
6 July 2021
Explore in depth the opportunities of the different countries via case studies, business and financial models that will foster growth in the region with particular focus on Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, Korea, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia & Vietnam.
13 July 2021
Energy Next is a new industry exhibition focusing on the latest renewable energy and energy efficiency technology, which will be held for the first time in 2021 in Sydney, Australia alongside the Clean Energy Council’s Australian Clean Energy Summit, the peak gathering of leaders driving Australia's energy transformation. Organised by the same people behind Australia’s largest clean energy event, All-Energy Australia, Energy Next will give visitors two days of access to key suppliers in the industry, free-to-attend professional development and industry workshops, and networking opportunities to better understand clean energy issues and solutions and learn about the latest developments in this transformational, dynamic sector.

Read Next

May 5, 2021
Europe’s solar industry has lauded the inclusion of a commitment to "re-ignite" Europe's solar manufacturing sector within the European Commission’s refreshed industrial strategy.
May 5, 2021
A round-up of news from the US solar sector, including updates from the Department of Energy, private equity firm American Securities, and Indiana developer Hoosier.
May 5, 2021
New solar and wind assets in the US are now cheaper to operate than nearly 80% of existing coal-fired generators in the country and could replace the asset class while delivering numerous benefits to consumers, a report has found.
May 5, 2021
Governments worldwide must ensure that there are sufficient raw materials available to solar and energy storage developers to safeguard the energy transition.
May 5, 2021
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has selected three commercial-scale green hydrogen projects that will share in AU$103 million (US$79.7 million) of funding to support their development.
May 5, 2021
SHV Energy, a Netherlands-based liquified petroleum gas (LPG) distributor, has acquired a majority stake in Indian solar developer SunSource Energy.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
May 11, 2021
Upcoming Webinars
May 26, 2021
Session 1 - 7:00 AM (BST) | Session 2 - 5:00 PM (BST)
Solar Media Events
June 15, 2021
Solar Media Events
July 6, 2021