Clearway Energy Group, in partnership with Hawaiian Electric Co., Kamehameha Schools, Moss Solar and others, has brought online three grid-scale solar power projects on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.
The projects, totaling 110 MW, will significantly contribute to Hawaii’s goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045. Commercial operations at the three projects were launched on Tuesday following a traditional Hawaiian blessing.
“This successful partnership is helping Hawaii become less dependent on fossil fuels while becoming more energy independent, reducing pollution, and driving down the cost of electricity for our businesses and families,” says Gov. David Ige, D-Hawaii. “These solar projects are helping our state secure its energy future for generations to come.”
The projects will generate renewable energy equivalent to that used by about 18,000 Oahu homes each year. The three projects represent the largest block of grid-scale solar power ever developed in Hawaii, according to Clearway. Altogether, they will contribute approximately 3% to Hawaiian Electric’s 100% renewable energy goal, which reached 27% at the end of 2018.
The projects, originally proposed by SunEdison, were acquired by Clearway’s predecessor at the end of November 2016 during SunEdison’s bankruptcy proceedings. In February 2016, as a result of SunEdison’s missing contract milestones due to its declining financial condition, Hawaiian Electric terminated the original power purchase agreements for the projects. Clearway and Hawaiian Electric ultimately renegotiated lower prices for the three projects.
“It’s satisfying to see these projects completed after such a long journey,” notes Alan Oshima, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric. “We were criticized at the time, but we knew we were doing the right thing terminating the original contracts because it allowed us to work with Clearway to ensure these important projects came online and provided better value to our customers.”
The three projects are as follows:
1. Kawailoa Solar – The 49 MW project, which uses nearly 500,000 solar panels, is the largest solar project in the state to date. It is sited on former sugar cane land owned by Kamehameha Schools and is adjacent to the state’s largest wind farm, with which it shares existing roads, a substation and transmission lines. Clearway is working with local ranchers to allow them to graze sheep for vegetation management at the project site. Kawailoa is also hosting internships and programs for students in renewable energy education in partnership with Blue Planet Foundation and Kamehameha Schools.
2. Waipi‘o Solar – The 45.9 MW project consists of over 160,000 panels on former cattle pasture owned by Clearway in central Oahu. The project will also use sheep grazing during operations to help to manage vegetation while supporting local agriculture.
3. Mililani Solar II – The 14.7 MW project, which consists of over 150,000 solar panels, is constructed on former pineapple land owned by Clearway. Located within the Mililani Agricultural Park, the project operates alongside active farming operations.
All the power generated by the three projects feeds into the Hawaiian Electric grid for the benefit of all customers on Oahu.