Hawaii’s power company has provided a snapshot of the progress being made in the Pacific Ocean islands, which are setting the pace among developing country islands in transitioning towards green energy.
As the U.S. state aiming to meeting 100% of its power needs from renewable sources by 2045, a record 27 percent of the electricity on Hawaiian Electric’s grid was from renewables last year, Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. (HEI) said in its 2017 earnings report. Installed capacity went up by 10 percent compared to 2016 and more than 100 megawatts of solar was installed, the biggest annual amount since 2013.
Thanks to the strong take-up of renewables, which led to the state avoiding 2.2 million barrels of oil equivalent in 2017, Hawaii saved more than $150 million in fuel costs.
As of year-end, 30 percent of single-family homes on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island had installed or got approval to install solar PV systems. That led the company to claim it is “leading the nation in customer-sited solar”.
In December 2016, Hawaiian Electric and its subsidiaries outlined a plan to reach the 100% renewable goal ahead of schedule by getting to 48% by the end of 2020 (the mandated goal is 30 percent), at least 72% by the end of 2030 (mandated 40%), at least 100 percent by the end of 2040 (mandated 70%). In the near-term, using a proposed mix of solar, wind, battery storage and biofuels, the plan aims to achieve a renewable power supply (RPS) of 100 percent on Molokai by 2020. By 2020, Hawaii Island is forecast to reach RPS of 80 percent, Maui 63 percent, Lanai 59 percent and O‘ahu 40 percent.