Friday, 24 May 2013

Hawaiian Governor welcomes new 5 megawatt solar farm

Power Engineering Magazine

The Governor of Hawaii, Neil Abercrombie, joined representatives of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL) and Hawaiian Electric Company, to dedicate the new 5 MW Kalaeloa Solar Farm in West Oahu. The ceremony which took place on March 8, 2013 was hosted by Bright Plan Energy LLC, the solar farms management company, along with SunPower Corp who designed and constructed the project. Bright Plan Energy, in partnership with an affiliate of D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments, L.L.C., was responsible for the acquisition in November 2012. Governor Abercrombie applauded all of the partners involved stating that this will be the most productive Solar Farm, created to date, on the island. He based this on, not only the large renewable energy output capacity, but the abundant amount of sunshine on Oahu. "It will have significant positive impact on the states renewable energy portfolio standards goal of 40% by 2030." Abercrombie said.

SunPower installed their ultra efficient photo voltaic panels on a SunPower ® T0 Tracker system at the 36 acre site. The system positions the panels according to the location of the sun at any time of day resulting in a 25% increase of captured sunlight over typical fixed position units. This also permits less land usage per watt. According to SunPower CEO Tom Warner, the system will generate cost competitive power for at least 20 years. It is the first project of its type located on state lands.

The Kalaeloa Solar Farm is known as an on grid system which feeds the renewable energy directly into the power grid owned by Hawaiian Electric. The utility has agreed to purchase the power produced by the farm. The US Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that the production of solar power will reduce carbon emission by 9500 tons per year. That is the equivalent of over 400,000 barrels of oil being used over the 20 year purchase agreement period.

Hawaii was ranked third, right behind New Jersey and Arizona in solar rating per capita in January 2013. With the addition of this project Hawaii now leads the nation in per capita solar production according to Robbie Elm, Hawaiian Electric executive vice president. "This and other utility-scale projects will help Hawaii maintain our solar leadership and reduce our unsustainable and expensive dependence on foreign oil." Elm said.

The unchallenged US leader in the overall number of installations is still California, where a 4.2 MW installation brought the number to over 121,000 installs. That is over 15 times greater than number two ranked New Jersey with 7700. That top spot is not likely to ever be taken due to the geographical size, available land and number of sunny days in the Golden State and a very high ecological awareness of the population. You can read more about the installation at Power Engineering Magazine.