We’ve come to be familiar with Hawaii making headlines about its ambitious push to switch to renewable energy. Now the island of Kauaʿi is putting in place another important piece in its task to turn this strategy into reality.
KIUC, the public services co-operative on Kauaʿi that brings together 24,000 member-owners and extends its services to 33,000 clients, has received approval to develop a 19.3 MW solar installation together with a 70 MWh battery energy storage system to be installed at a military base.
The use of storage on Kauaʿi is key to its strategy of boosting renewables, because as an island it has to balance supply and demand within its own grid.
The utility has a goal of reaching 70% renewables by 2030 and this plant will bring it close to that ambitious target a decade early. In fact, when the latest plant comes online at end 2019, KIUC will be able to supply roughly 65% of Kauaʿi’s night-time peak load with stored solar generated energy.
“To be able to accomplish this in a cost-effective manner was just a dream a few years ago,” said David Bissell, president and CEO of KIUC. “The partnerships between KIUC’s engineers and those of some of the best renewable energy companies in the world is making the impossible a reality.”
The latest facility, which will be built by AES Distributed Energy on land leased by the Department of Defense, will produce enough electricity to supply 6,000 homes, in addition to avoiding the use of more than 10 million litres of diesel a year. KIUS has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) for 25 years with AES at a price of 10.85 US cents per kilowatt hour, making it one of the lowest priced power sources for the co-operative.
The co-operative has two other battery storage units, including Tesla’s first utility-scale solar-plus-storage facility, which stores 52 MWh on a daily basis. Thanks to a pumped storage hydro plant planned in the west of the island, KIUC is looking to reach 90% renewables by 2023.