Hawaiian Electric Co. and Santa Clara, Calif.-based Varentec Inc. have entered into a strategic partnership to install and validate the performance of Varentec’s technology for ensuring grid reliability and efficiency while allowing more private rooftop solar systems to be added to island grids.
According to a release from Hawaiian Electric Co., the energy provider will use Varentec’ s Edge of Network Grid Optimizers and Grid Edge Management System platform on a pilot project on the island of O’ahu to minimize voltage fluctuations on the grid and to maintain safe, reliable operations along a neighborhood circuit with a high level of distributed solar generation.
“Varentec offers a mature, grid edge Volt Var Control technology that can be deployed very quickly to help solve the rooftop solar integration problem we are facing,” says Colton Ching, Hawaiian Electric’s vice president of energy delivery. “Even though Varentec’s technology was not primarily designed for this purpose, our innovative engineers are eager to test this Volt Var Control technology to solve our unique solar challenges.”
Hawaiian Electric says that a key challenge resulting from a large number of rooftop solar systems feeding excess electricity into a neighborhood circuit is increased voltage instability for all customers, with or without rooftop solar. Higher-than-allowed voltage can trip off rooftop solar systems, damage home appliances, and possibly endanger utility crews working on the grid.
Hawaiian Electric has chosen to use Varentec’s system-level, dynamic-control technology to address these voltage issues at a lower cost to customers than other alternatives considered.
Guillaume Dufosse, Varentec’s CEO, says that although the partner companies will primarily focus on solving immediate solar penetration challenges, they will further analyze different uses for Varentec’s technology, such as voltage control for energy conservation and peak demand reduction.