Clearway Energy Group, in partnership with Hawaiian Electric Company, Moss Solar, and Kamehameha Schools, and others, recently announced that construction was completed on three grid-scale solar power projects on the island of Oahu, helping contribute to the state’s goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045. Commercial operations at these projects were launched on Sept. 10, 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. These solar projects are helping our state secure its energy future for generations to come,” said Hawaii Gov. David Ige in the press release.
The three projects at Kawailoa, Waipio and Mililani total 110 megawatts (MW) and will generate low-cost, renewable energy equivalent to that used by 18,000 Oahu homes each year. They represent the largest block of grid-scale solar power ever developed in Hawaii, contributing approximately 3% to Hawaiian Electric’s renewable portfolio standards (RPS), which reached 27% by the end of 2018. All power generated by the projects contributes to the Hawaiian Electric grid for the benefit of all customers on Oahu.
The three projects are:
- Kawailoa Solar. This 49 MW project uses nearly half a million solar panels and is the largest solar project in Hawaii to date, situated on a former sugar cane property owned by Kamehameha Schools. It shares roads, substation and transmission lines with the state’s largest wind farm on the north shore of Oahu. Clearway is working with local ranchers to allow them to graze sheep for vegetation management of the site.
- Waipio Solar. The 45.9 MW project consists of over 160,000 panels on a former cattle pasture owned by Clearway in central Oahu. It will also use sheep grazing during operations to help maintain vegetation and support local agriculture.
- Mililani Solar II. The 14.7 MW project has over 150,000 solar panels and is constructed on former pineapple land, also owned by Clearway. Located within the Mililani Agricultural Park, it operates alongside active farming operations.
With the completion of Kawailoa Solar and in conjunction with Kawailoa Wind, Kamehameha Schools’ lands at Kawailoa are now home to the largest renewable energy operation in Hawaii. As part of Clearway’s multi-year commitment to community programs, Kawailoa is hosting local and mainland internships and programs for students in renewable energy education, in partnership with Blue Planet Foundation and Kamehameha Schools.
“This provides opportunities for Kamehameha Schools to steward these lands in a way that reduces Hawaii’s dependence on fossil fuels, while bringing aina-based learning to haumana (students) in the region through collaboration and innovation, as we work to fulfill our mission to improve the well-being of Native Hawaiians through education,” said Kaeo Duarte, Kamehameha Schools’ VP for community engagement and resources, in the press release.
The three projects were originally proposed by SunEdison. In February 2016, as a result of SunEdison missing contract milestones due to their bankruptcy proceedings, Hawaiian Electric terminated the original power purchase agreements (PPAs) for the projects. Clearway’s predecessor acquired the projects at the end of November 2016, after Clearway and Hawaiian Electric renegotiated lower prices for the projects.