SunPower, AES team up for major solar + storage project on Hawaii

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SunPower and AES join forces to build 28MW solar with a 20MW, 5-hour battery storage system on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i.

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KauaiFlickrUS solar manufacturer and developer SunPower and battery storage maker AES Distributed Energy will team up to build one of the largest solar and battery storage projects in the world on the Hawaiin island of Kaua’i.

The 28MW SunPower solar system will be accompanied by a 20MW, 5-hour battery storage system – making it the largest solar plus storage systems on the state of Hawaii and one of the largest battery storage installations in the world.

Hawaii is aiming for 100 per cent renewables by 2045, although the state grid operator reckons it can be done by 2040. Hawaii is pushing for 100 per cent renewables because it faces a massive bill importing fuels to drive its generators, and because it wants to do its share on climate.

The AES system of 20MW/100MWh compares with the 100MW/129MWh system being built by Tesla in South Australia, although the Tesla battery is designed to perform a different function to the AES system – it will provide fast-response “stability” to the grid to respond to any major faults.

The AES system, on the other hand is designed to provide added capacity and flexibility to deal with peak demand.

Kaua’i is already becoming a centre for solar and storage projects. Tesla and its now fully owned SolarCity built a 13MW solar plant with a 52MWh battery system that delivers as much as 13MW of power to the island grid during the evening peak hours of 5pm to 10pm at the reported price per of US14.5c/kWh.

The SunPower/AES facility will deliver power for US11c/kWh – a drop of 30 per cent from the Tesla/SolarCity project in just over a year. When completed, Kaua’i will get over 50 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources.

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13 Comments
  1. juxx0r 2 years ago

    I dont get how the state grid operator can be so blind. They reckon they can go 100% renewable by 2040. How does that equate to this project at 11c/kWh when the incumbent alternative is 25c/kWh in reciprocating diesel? Surely, blind Freddy can see that 11c is less than 25 cents, that now is sooner than 2040 and that about 50% of their power remains as diesel. Why dont they pull their finger out and just do it?

    • brucelee 2 years ago

      Agreed, get a green bond deal and just go for it.

    • Mike Shurtleff 2 years ago

      Think you should give some credit here. Was not more than a few years ago that the State of Hawaii was 98% diesel for electricity.

      Most of Hawaiian Islands will probably get to 100% far sooner. Only Oahu might have problems. Cost is lower, as you point out. Better driver than policy.

      • juxx0r 2 years ago

        So because they were behind the times a few years ago, I should forgive them for putting out illogical targets now?

        • Mike Shurtleff 2 years ago

          No, you should praise them, particularly Hawaii Island and Kauai Island, for the great progress they’ve made already. You are right about the targets being unambitious. Politics of old grid paradigms. Not technical and economical reality of what is going to happen there anyway.

          Regardless, be careful about criticism of those who have done more of what needs doing to date. Nobody ever built anything by being negative all the time.

  2. Rod 2 years ago

    Does anyone know if the islands have interconnectors?
    I read Hawaii itself has 40% RE

    • Mike Shurtleff 2 years ago

      No, on interconnectors.
      I think Hawaiian Islands are 25% RE. Will post link later.
      Big Island of Hawaii by itself is already 52% RE, leading island.

      • Rod 2 years ago

        Thanks Mike.

        • Mike Shurtleff 2 years ago

          Rod, I’m very sorry, I forgot to pass on these links this last weekend:

          Amount of Solar PV + Storage on Kauai, Reference:
          http://www.nreca.coop/wp-co
          {This link seems to have been moved. Maybe you can find here: https://www.electric.coop/ }
          “Kauai Island Utility Cooperative: The Impact of Extensive PV Penetration”
          page 4: Active In Use = 36.6% Solar PV + Hydro …and no frying grids …and no whining by the utility.
          “Active In Use” => “36.6% Solar PV + Hydro”
          “Under Construction/Permitting” => “5.2% Solar PV + Hydro”
          “Under Consideration” => “15.8% Solar PV + Hydro”
          Total of All Three Categories => “57.6% Solar PV + Hydro”
          Last one to listed here to be completed in mid-2018.

          Cost of Solar PV + Storage on Kauai:
          https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/aes-puts-energy-heavy-battery-behind-new-kauai-solar-peaker
          – January 2017
          “AES’ New Kauai Solar-Storage ‘Peaker’ Shows How Fast Battery Costs Are Falling”
          “The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative continues its innovation streak with the solar-plus-storage plant for peak capacity.” “AES Distributed Energy will build a solar-plus-storage ‘peaker plant’ on the Hawaiian island of Kauai that stands out both in capacity and power price.”
          “The project, if approved by state and local regulators, will combine 28 megawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity with 20 megawatts of five-hour duration batteries. AES will own and operate the system, and has executed a power purchase agreement to sell power to the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) at 11 cents per kilowatt-hour. The project is expected to be operational by late 2018.”

          Amount of Solar PV + Other RE on Hawaii Island (“The Big Island”), reference:
          https://cleantechnica.com/2017/06/28/the-road-to-100-meeting-hawaiis-clean-energy-goals/ – June 2017
          “The Road To 100%: Meeting Hawaii’s Clean Energy Goals”
          “Gov. Ige stated that the current island renewable capacity rates are 54% on the Big Island, 42% on Kauai, and 37% on Maui.”
          “According to documents I reviewed from HECO (the state utility), Hawaii is currently at 26% renewables, and on track to 48% by 2020, and 67% by 2030.”
          The Island of Hawaii is already 54% RE. They have hydro resources which can be used for storage and geothermal for baseload. There is plenty of room to install more Solar PV on The Big Island and hydro to handle it. Lower cost Battery Storage is coming too.
          The State of Hawaii itself is already “at 26% renewables” and “on track to 48% by 2020”. A huge change from 95% reliant on expensive diesel generated electricity. A huge cost reduction already.

          All of the Hawaiian Islands are not equal when it comes to RE, so lumping the State of Hawaii into one RE basket is a mistake. Here is a reference:
          https://cleantechnica.com/2016/05/20/hawaii-energy-crossroads-part-2-much-renewable-energy/
          Two points from this reference:
          1. I believe the Solar potential is under estimated in this reference.
          2. All of the individual islands of Hawaii can easily be powered entirely (100%) by RE, except for Oahu. More difficult to do that on Oahu.

          • Rod 2 years ago

            No need to apologise.
            Thanks for the links.

    • ROBwithaB 2 years ago

      I think it’s difficult, due to the deep ocean between most of the islands.
      There are probably only two really Maui and Molokai (which are the remnant of a a single volcanic cone), have shallow ocean between suitable for laying a cable.

      This link gives a brief history of the formation of the chain, and has a map showing ocean depths:
      http://volcano.oregonstate.edu/hawaiian

      Disclaimer: I’m not any kind of expert.

  3. Mike Shurtleff 2 years ago

    “The SunPower/AES facility will deliver power for US11c/kWh – a drop of 30 per cent from the Tesla/SolarCity project in just over a year. When completed, Kaua’i will get over 50 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources.”

    Expected completion in the middle of 2018.

  4. neroden 2 years ago

    For historical reasons, Kauai has a different electric utility than the other islands. They have set an aggressive 100% renewable target “ASAP”, due to the high cost of diesel.

    Expect another battery/solar facility to be announced soon.

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