Hawaii Solar Energy Thriving


Aloha, solar energy! The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that Hawaii’s solar power capacity over the last five years has skyrocketed on the island of Oahu (home of Honolulu) and grown significantly on the other smaller islands.

Hawaii has always been a leader in solar power systems and installation, especially rooftop solar, but what this tropical state has planned next is going to topple its old numbers. By 2030, Hawaii aims to triple its solar power and have renewable energy sources supply 65 percent of its electricity.

According to Motley Fool, Hawaii relies on imported fuels for over 90 percent of its total energy, which pushed prices “up to an average $0.34 per kWh (kilowatt hour) for 2014”. And the expense of it means that solar gets particularly competitive, with wind and solar economically sound alternatives.

NextEra Energy, one of the largest producers of wind and solar energy, announced last December it would acquire utility company Hawaiian Electric Industries. This is going to open up new opportunities in Hawaii to embrace utility solar, which can be cheaper that rooftop solar for residents on their own. But what will happen when they put tons of rooftop solar energy onto Hawaii’s grid?

For many solar grid circuits, there’s more solar power being generated versus electricity consumed. As a result, permits were forced to slow down, and the state’s utilities are now making fundamental changes on how it can distribute energy. That’s where SolarCity will be stepping in. If a lot more homes add solar panels to their roofs, there’s a fear that the grid could fall apart. However, with the right infrastructure, all those panels can be approved, thanks to interconnection on high solar circuits.

Moreover, the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory is helping out by testing smart solar inverter capabilities alongside SolarCity. This way, it can double the amount of solar permitted on impacted circuits without destabilizing the grid with voltage issues.

Hawaii already has 48,000 customers with rooftop solar panel kits, but there’s almost 500,000 other homes without it. This means solar power installations could potentially increase by tenfold in the coming years, bringing a flood of solar energy. With NextEra Energy leading the way, and SolarCity helping out, Hawaii’s solar power is about to be cranked up by many more megawatts than ever before.

Do you live in Hawaii? How do you feel about Hawaii’s new commitment to solar? Tell us in the comments!

Image Credit: Joi under a Creative Commons license

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