NRG Energy Inc., in partnership with utility Hawaiian Electric Co., Kamehameha Schools and others, has broken ground on three grid-scale solar power projects on the island of Oahu expected to significantly contribute to Hawaii’s 100% by 2045 renewable portfolio standard.
“Hawaii is on the front lines of the fight against climate change, and the shift to renewable energy is one of our best weapons,” says Hawaii Gov. David Ige. “Building solar energy at this scale represents tremendous progress toward our renewable energy goals. I thank all the partners involved for making it happen.”
The projects at Kawailoa, Waipio and Mililani total 110 MW and will produce low-cost, renewable energy equivalent to that used by almost 32,000 Oahu homes each year. This is the largest block of grid-scale solar power ever installed in Hawaii.
“NRG is very proud to support Hawaiian Electric, the state and citizens of Hawaii as they move forward in their efforts to obtain 100 percent of their power from renewable resources,” says Craig Cornelius, president of NRG Renewables. “Using just the plentiful sunlight that Oahu receives, these three solar facilities will generate clean energy for decades to come and are an exciting step forward to help Hawaii have the cleanest electrical grid in the nation.”
“This is an important moment in renewable energy progress for Oahu and for Hawaii,” says Alan Oshima, Hawaiian Electric president and CEO. “These are the first major projects to break ground since our Power Supply Improvement Plan was accepted last year, and we appreciate the efforts of NRG to bring an unprecedented amount of new renewable energy resources online. As always, our goal is better value for our customers, who will get the benefits of lower prices for clean, renewable energy over the life of these projects.”
The three projects being built for NRG by Moss & Associates are the following:
Kawailoa Solar: The 49 MW Kawailoa Solar will use over half-a-million solar panels and be the largest solar project in the state, sited on former sugar cane land owned by Kamehameha Schools. Adjacent to the state’s largest wind farm, Kawailoa Solar will share existing roads, switching and transmission lines. NRG will work with local ranchers to allow them to graze sheep at the project site. As part of NRG’s community program, Kawailoa will host students in renewable energy education programs in partnership with Blue Planet Foundation and Kamehameha Schools.
Waipio Solar: The 45.9 MW Waipio Solar project will consist of over 160,000 panels on former cattle pasture owned by NRG in Central Oahu. The Waipio project will also be open to sheep grazing during operations, helping to manage vegetation while supporting local agriculture.
Mililani Solar II: The 14.7 MW Mililani Solar II project will use over 150,000 solar panels and be constructed on former pineapple land, now owned by NRG. Located within the Mililani Agricultural Park, the project will operate alongside active farming operations.
All the power generated by the new Hawaii solar project sites will go into the Hawaiian Electric grid for the benefit of all customers on Oahu, according to the utility. NRG expects to have all three projects completed in 2019.
Photo courtesy of Hawaiian Electric’s Twitter account