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Up To 200 MW Of Energy Storage Proposed For Hawaii


60 to 200 megawatts — that’s the size of proposed energy storage development for the Hawaiian island of Oahu, according to a recent announcement from the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO).

“We want someone to do the whole project, from design to testing to commissioning. Beyond that, we could own it, we could turnkey it, we could do it on a provider basis. We’re trying to cast as wide a net as possible,” explained HECO spokesperson Peter Rossegg said in a Monday interview.

A similar proposal was published this year by the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative for a pumped energy storage facility and it had a healthy response from developers. (An energy storage system might be feasible for Molokai too.)

One big reason for the interest in energy storage on Oahu is the success of its PV solar installations. 40,159 solar PV systems are interconnected with HECO’s grids, totaling about 300 MW of capacity. Not all are happy with the slowing of solar installations,  “[C]ritics in the solar industry say HECO’s new restrictions on solar are ruining a thriving market at the busiest time of year and leaving hundreds of solar customers in limbo. Many residential neighborhoods where single-family homes dominate and solar is most practical — like Mililani, Ewa and Hawaii Kai — have already reached  HECO’s penetration level for triggering studies,” explained the Civil Beat.

The utility gets about 18% of its electricity from renewable sources. It has a goal of getting 40% of its electricity sales from renewables by 2030.

HECO has written fairly extensively about energy storage on its site, with information about the four main types:

  • Mechanical: compressed air, flywheel, pumped storage hydroelectric
  • Electrochemical process: batteries and capacitors
  • Thermal process: molten salt, solar pond
  • Chemical Process: hydrogen

In January, a 115 MW oil-fired plant in Honolulu was beginning to undergo deactivation and by 2016 a total of 226 MW of such facilities are scheduled for the same fate.

Energy storage for renewables has seemed like something reserved for the distant future, but it appears to be closer than one might have assumed.

Related Story: Hawaii’s Biggest Utility Company Forced To Help Customers Install Solar Panels

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