- REC Solar has brought online Hawaii's largest solar array yet, a 12 MW (AC) facility paired with a 6 MW lithium ion battery system, PV Magazine reports.
- Developed for Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC), the system is located on 60 acres and will supply 20% of the island's annual power needs. The solar plant will help the island meet its goal of 38% renewables by the end of 2015, on the road to hitting the statewide 100% renewables target by 2045.
- The solar power will allow KIUC to cut fossil fuel imports and will save $250,000 each month on operating costs alone, according to the company.
Though just 12 MW (14.5 MW DC), the system is both Hawaii and REC Solar's largest installation to date, and officials said it is a significant part of the island's strategy to boost renewable energy and move away from fossil fuel-based power.
“This project represents a huge step toward achieving our goal of using renewable resources to generate at least half of Kauai’s power needs by 2023,” KIUC president and CEO David Bissell said in a statement. “Every megawatt we can generate using the power of the sun reduces our costs and our greenhouse gas emissions.”
A blessing and dedication ceremony, along with tours of the facility, will be held Saturday. Located in Anahola, the system will generate 20% of Kaua‘i's annual energy needs. The attached battery system is designed to smooth the integration of solar power on the grid.
“Hawaii is at the forefront of the electric grid transformation and solar energy is in the driver’s seat,” said Al Bucknam, REC Solar CEO. “REC has invested in understanding Hawaii’s unique market because we know commercial and utility-scale solar is an integral part of Hawaii’s ambitious 100% renewables goal.”
Funds from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service were used by KIUC to finance the Anahola project. It is the second solar array REC has installed on Kauai. Recently, the company installed its fifth ground mount solar energy system for the islands’ largest tourist attraction, Dole Plantation, on Oahu.
Pushing a decade of operation in the Hawaiian islands, REC has installed more than 32 MW of commercial and utility projects in the state. “This installation is a game-changer for Kaua’i and will set a precedent for utility cooperatives across the U.S.," said Drew Bradley, Hawaii Regional Manager at REC.
KIUC, for its part, has been making waves in the power sector lately with it aggressive adoption of solar, storage, and rate structures to optimize their use.
In September, the cooperative unveiled a deal with SolarCity to construct what it calls the first fully-disptachable solar-plus-storage system, a combination of a 13 MW solar array with a 52 MWh battery system.
That month, KIUC also announced it would conduct a pilot program offering discounted electric rates to encourage customers to shift their energy use to the daylight hours to take advantage of the utility’s solar resources. The program will offer a 25% discount on standard electric rates from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The one-year program will be capped at 300 participants with smart meters. The cooperative said that with more than 50 MW of solar energy generated by PV systems on Kaua'i, "a key measure of the program’s success is the ability of customers to move a significant amount of their energy use from night to day to take advantage of the lower rates."