Solar energy and energy storage figure to play a much larger part in Hawaii’s energy future if a plan proposed by the Hawaiian Electric Companies comes to fruition. Hawaiian Electric by 2030 proposes to nearly triple the amount of Hawaii’s distributed solar power capacity and install energy storage systems as it pursues a goal of achieving the highest level of renewable energy use in the nation.
Hawaiian Electric’s plan sets a goal of sourcing 65 percent of electricity supply from renewable sources by 2030. Achieving this goal would drastically reduce Hawaii’s dependence on high and volatile fossil fuel imports, greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution associated with fossil fuel use. Furthermore, Hawaiian Electric expects customers’ electric bills would be reduced by 20 percent.
Energy storage systems will be a core facet of Hawaiian Electric’s ambitious clean energy plans. As the utility explains in a press release.
“Energy storage systems, including batteries, will increase the ability to add renewables by addressing potential disruptions on electric grids caused by variable solar and wind power. Hawaiian Electric is evaluating proposals for energy storage projects on Oahu to be in service by early 2017. Energy storage projects are also in the works for Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii Island.
State-of-the-art electric systems on Oahu, in Maui County and on Hawaii Island are to serve as the foundation of the utility’s renewable energy and energy storage initiative. Complementing and reinforcing the use of distributed solar and energy storage systems, Hawaiian Electric is also planning to install complete smart grid systems in Maui County and on Hawaii Island by year-end 2017 and on Oahu by year-end 2018. That’s going to give customers the flexibility to manage their own energy use, as well as enhance grid reliability and facilitate the integration of renewable electricity supply, the utility highlights.
“Our energy environment is changing rapidly and we must change with it to meet our customers’ evolving needs,” Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric vice president of corporate planning and business development, was quoted in the press release. “These plans are about delivering services that our customers value. That means lower costs, better protection of our environment, and more options to lower their energy costs, including rooftop solar.”