- Tesla announced this week it had completed its fully dispatchable solar+storage project on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, installing a 13 MW, 52 MWh project that will help boost the amount of renewables on the system.
- Under the terms of a 20-year contract, Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative will pay Tesla $0.139/KWh—less than the current cost of oil, according to the utility.
- The project will allow solar energy to be delivered at night, helping the the utility toward its goal to deliver 100% renewable power in line with Hawaii's renewable goal of 100% by 2045.
Hawaiian power companies continue to push the limits on green energy technologies, and are now looking to deliver solar energy even when the sun isn't shining. KIUC and Tesla said the Kapaia project, which utilizes Tesla's Powerpack lithium-ion storage systems, is now online.
The project attracted national attention when it was first announced in near the end of 2015 as first fully dispatchable solar+storage project in the United States. The project sprang out of a request for proposals to solve problems too much solar energy posed to its grid. By solving that issue, KIUC hoped to integrate more solar into the grid, avoid curtailing solar at midday, boost customer savings and wean off its reliance on oil generation.
Tesla’s Chief Technical Officer and co-founder, J.B. Straubel, noted that this is a “future” project that enables communities to reach 100 percent renewable. “For the first time, solar power can deliver 24 hours a day and follow the load when it is needed by the utility,” he said.
KIUC also inked a contract for another (and bigger) dispatchable solar-plus-storage system with AES Corp. earlier this year to pair a 28 MW solar array with a 20 MW, 100 MWh battery system. The contract for that deal is even lower than the Tesla contract: KIUC will purchase power for that system for $0.11/kWh, a nearly 30% drop in the power purchase price in less than two years.
Co-op documents have revealed that KIUC has paid between $0.122/kWh and $0.18/kWh in just fuel and commodity costs since Dec. 2014, with November costs coming in above $0.15/kWh last year.