Renewables, Solar

Three Hawaiian solar projects push state closer to renewable goals

(Clarion Energy stock photo)

A group of partners has brought three grid-scale solar power projects into operation on the island of Oahu totaling more than 110 MW and about 800,000 panels.

Developer Clearway Energy Group, utility Hawaiian Electric Co., Kamehameha Schools and Moss Solar, among others, brought the projects online this week. Operations were launched 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,” Hawaii Gov. David Ige said. “These solar projects are helping our state secure its energy future for generations to come.”

The projects at Kawailoa, Waipio and Miliani will generate renewable energy to power the equivalent of about 18,000 Oahu homes. They will be the largest single block of grid-scale solar power ever developed in Hawaii, according to the HECO release, and help the utility expand its renewable energy portfolio beyond 30 percent of the generation mix.

SunEdison originally proposed the projects but sold them to Clearway’s predecessor during SunEdison’s bankruptcy proceedings in November 2016. Hawaiian Electric later renegotiated its power purchase agreements and signed the revised deal with San Francisco-based Clearway for the three projects.

 “Building Hawaii’s largest block of solar projects would not have been possible without tremendous teamwork and dedication from all of our local partners,” said Craig Cornelius, CEO of Clearway. “We’re particularly grateful for HECO’s perseverance and commitment to these projects and are thrilled that they will now help power Hawaii with affordable clean energy for decades to come.”

The three projects are:

  • Kawailoa Solar – The 49-MW Kawailoa Solar project uses nearly half a million solar panels and is the largest solar project in the state to date, sited on former sugar cane land owned by Kamehameha Schools. Adjacent to the state’s largest wind farm on the North Shore of Oahu, Kawailoa Solar shares existing roads, substation, and transmission lines with the wind project.
  • Waipio Solar – The 45.9-MW Waipio Solar project consists of more than 160,000 panels on former cattle pasture owned by Clearway in Central Oahu. The Waipio project will also use sheep grazing during operations to help to manage vegetation while supporting local agriculture.
  • Mililani Solar II – The 14.7-MW Mililani Solar II project consists of more than 150,000 solar panels and is constructed on former pineapple land owned by Clearway. Located within the Mililani Agricultural Park, the project operates alongside active farming operations.

Hawaii has a goal of reaching 100 percent renewable energy generation by 2045.