- After responses to its RFP for energy storage reportedly came in too high-priced, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) has decided to build a 25 megawatt pumped storage facility and has signed a deal with contractors Gay & Robinson to purchase power from a new six megawatt hydroelectric project, Kauai’s first new hydroelectric dam in 80 years.
- For the pumped storage project, KIUC will build two reservoirs that will have water pumped between them with excess solar power, an undertaking expected to cost between $55 million and $65 million.
- Hawaiian Electric Co., the state’s dominant electricity provider, will move ahead with an RFP for energy storage projects that requires all bids to be in by July 21 and aims to put storage into service by Q1 2017.
HECO is currently in need of storage to integrate the increasing amounts of solar and other renewables coming onto Hawaii’s grid. Solar was over 5% of Kauai’s 2013 electricity and a new utility-scale solar project in development is expected to take that to 16%.
Pumped hydro storage, the most common form of energy storage in the world, moves water uphill with excess energy capacity and then releases it to flow downhill through a turbine that uses its force to generate hydroelectric power. With pumped hydro, which was first used in Europe in the 1890s, the released water can be recaptured and reused for power generation.
KIUC is in preliminary discussions about siting the project on the island’s west side with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, the state Agribusiness Development Corp., and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. The Gay & Robinson 6-megawatt hydroelectric dam must still be approved by state regulators but is expected to be in service within five years at a site below an existing 1.3-megawatt plant on Olokele Ditch.