Solar power in Hawaii

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MicroCSP collectors on the Big Island of Hawaii

The energy sector in Hawaii has rapidly adopted solar power due to the high costs of electricity, and good solar resources, and has one of the highest per capita rates of solar power in the United States. Hawaii's imported energy costs, mostly for imported petroleum and coal, are three times higher, and will soon be close to four times higher[1] than the mainland, so Hawaii has motivation to become one of the highest users of solar energy. Hawaii was the first state in the United States to reach grid parity for photovoltaics. Its tropical location provides abundant sun energy.

Much of Hawaii's solar capacity is distributed solar panels on individual homes and businesses. Hawaii's grid has had to deal with this unique situation by developing new technology for balancing the energy flows in areas with large amounts of solar power. In 2017 distributed solar produced 913GWh which was 36% of all renewable energy produced in the state and about 9% of electricity sales. Utility-scale solar produced 212GWh, just over 1% of sales.[2] In December 2016, Hawaii had 674MW of installed distributed solar capacity.[3] The largest utility-scale solar farm in Hawaii is the 27.6MW EE Waianae Solar Project which opened in January 2017.[4]


Hawaii has a renewable portfolio standard of 40% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% by 2045.[5] Hawaii had almost 200 MW of grid-connected photovoltaics in 2012. 16 MW of PV were installed in 2010, 40 MW in 2011, and 109 MW in 2012.[6][7]

The electrical grids of the Hawaiian islands are each separate and relatively small. "Overbuilding" distributed solar in some areas has led to issues such as partial duck curve, although time-of-use pricing has reduced disadvantages.[8] Such overbidding led the Hawaiian Electrical Company (HECO) to stop its net-metering program, which reimbursed solar consumers generously for the excess electricity they exported back to the grid, in 2015.[9] As a result, residential solar installations fell as homeowners could no longer justify the costs because the payback time of the rooftop solar system made it cost-prohibitive.[10] Two successor programs - customer grid supply (CGS) and customer self-supply - have proved less successful than net-metering did in promoting the growth of the industry.[11] HECO has made connecting to the grid more difficult, leading to layoffs among the solar installation industry.[12] In 2014, there were over 40,000 rooftop systems, over 10 percent of customers.[13] A proposed grid interconnection between Oahu and Maui would have allowed more renewable energy but was rejected as too costly.[14]

While HECO has severely limited homeowners' ability to install solar and connect to the grid, the utility has gone full steam ahead with its own plans to build utility-scale solar, approving 110 MW on July 27, 2017.[15]

Cyanotech has a 0.5 MW solar array on its algae farm at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii.[16]


Kauai has rapidly adopted solar. In 2009, oil provided 91% of the island's electricity. In 2015, solar provided 15% with other renewables providing another 22% with oil providing 63%.[17] Diesel usage was expected to be reduced by 10 million gallons in 2016 compared to 2008. On some days in 2016, solar power provided 77% of the electricity generation on Kauai.[18]

When it opened on November 2, 2015 on Kauai, the 12MW Anahola project was the largest solar project in Hawaii. It has 59,000 panels on 60 acres of land and is expected to supply up to 20% of the island's momentary electricity demand and up to 5% of the annual demand.[19] The Anahola project also incorporates a 6MW lithium-ion battery.[20][3] The 12 MW Kapaia solar plant is connected to a 13 MW / 52 MWh battery,[21][22] and the power is priced at 13.9 c/kWh.[23] A 2018 project for 28 MW solar with 20 MW / 100 MWh batteries is priced at 11 c/kWh.[24] A 44MW solar farm with batteries to be completed in 2019 will bring the island to 70% renewable electricity while a pumped-storage hydro facility is under consideration which could bring the island to 90% renewable by 2023.

Solar power energy statistics[edit]

In 2012 a typical solar system in Hawaii paid for itself in only 4 years, and returned a profit of over 4 times the cost over its life.[25] Hawaii's 35% ($5000.00 Maximum) state tax credit is the second highest in the country, behind Louisiana.[26] Hawaii offers a feed-in tariff, but it does not meet the normal definition of a feed-in tariff, as it is less than the retail cost of electricity, and is therefore simply a Power Purchase Agreement. The Oahu Wind Integration Study[27] released a report detailing the impact on the Oahu grid and found that 500 MW of wind and 100 MW of solar power could provide Oahu up to 25% of its electricity while eliminating the need to burn approximately 2.8 million barrels of low sulfur fuel oil and 132,000 tons of coal each year.[28]

In 2010 Hawaii generated 56 GWh of energy by photovoltaics, and 559 GWh in 2014.[29]

Hawaii Grid-Connected PV Capacity (MW)[30][31][32][33][34][35][36]
Year Capacity Installed % Change
2007 4.5 2.9 181%
2008 13.5 8.6 200%
2009 26.2 12.7 94%
2010 44.7 18.5 71%
2011 85.2 40.5 91%
2012 199.5 114.3 134%
2013 358.2 158.7 80%
2014 447 151 25%
2015 564 117 26%
2016 674 110 20%

This was 0.07% of the state's total electricity generation for 2007, 0.13% for 2008, 0.33% for 2009, 0.51% for 2010,[37][38] and 1% in 2011. In 2015 solar provided 6% of Hawaii's electricity.[39][40][41][42]

Major solar installations in Hawaii[edit]

  • December 2008: DuPont completed a solar power installation on Kauai that is expected to average 80 kW.[43]
  • December 2008: Sunetric, the largest solar installation company in the state,[44] completed the largest roof-mount solar power installation in Hawaii at Kona Commons shopping mall.[45]
  • 2009: Sopogy completed construction on Hawaii's first concentrating solar power project. The project located at the Natural Energy Laboratories of Hawaii is a 2MW solar thermal project interconnected into the Hawaiian Electric Industries grid under a Power Purchase Agreement.
  • 2009: La Ola Solar Farm on Lanai was dedicated in January, with a design capacity of 1.5 MW (1.2MW AC).[46] After operating at 600KW due to variable cloud cover, in September 2010 Xtreme Power announced plans to incorporate their battery storage technology to bring the system up to design capacity.[47] It is the first photovoltaic power plant in the world to include battery storage.[48]
  • 2011: The Kapaa Solar Farm was completed, a 1.21 MW photovoltaic array, the largest in Hawaii, and the first on the island of Kauai.[49][50][51]
  • 2011: Kapolei Sustainable Energy Park on Oahu, 1.18 MW [39]
  • 2012: Port Allen Solar Facility on Kauai, 6 MW photovoltaic array with 3 MW battery storage.[39][52]
  • 2012: Pearl City Peninsula Solar, Pearl Harbor Navy Base, 1.23 MW
  • 2012: Kalaeloa Solar Power II, 5 MW, a photovoltaic array on Oahu.[53]
  • 2013: Kalaeloa Renewable Energy Park, 5 MW, a photovoltaic array on Oahu.[54][55]
  • 2014: Koloa (Grove Farm) 12 MW photovoltaic array, opened in July 2014 on Kauai.[3][56][57]
  • 2015: Anahola, 12 MW photovoltaic array with 6 MW battery storage on Kauai, can produce 20% of Kauai's power during peak production.[56]
  • 2016: Waihonu Solar Farm North, 5MW and Waihonu Solar Farm South, 1.5MW, Oahu[58]
  • 2017: Waianae Solar, 40 MWDC (27.6MWAC), Oahu[59][60]
  • 2017: Kapaia solar project, 13MW, with 52MWh Tesla battery, on Kauai, to provide electricity only during the evenings[61][62]
  • 2017: Waipio Solar, Pearl Harbor Navy Base, 14.3 MWDC (11 MW(AC))[63] [64]
  • 2017: Aloha Solar, 5 MW(AC), at Nanakuli, Oahu[65]
  • 2018: Kihei Solar Farm, 2.9MW, Maui[66]
  • 2018: Ku'ia Solar, 2.8MW, Maui [67][68]

Projects under development[edit]

  • Kauai - Lāwa’i Solar (AES), 28MW with 100MWh storage, to be completed 2018[69]
  • Kauai - Pacific Missile Range Facility, U.S. Navy, 19MW, with 70 MWh battery storage, expected completion end of 2019[70]
  • Molokai - Molokai New Energy Partners, 2.7MW with 3MW battery, to be completed in 2019[71]
  • Oahu - Lanikuhana Solar, 15MW, to be completed 2019, Sun Edison project revived by NRG[59][72]
  • Oahu - Waipio PV, 45.9MW, to be completed 2019, Sun Edison project revived by NRG[59][72]
  • Oahu - Pearl Harbor West Loch Annex, 20MW, began construction April 2018[73]
  • Oahu - Kawailoa Solar, 49MW, to be completed 2019, Sun Edison project revived by NRG[59][72]

In October, 2018, Hawaii Electric Companies announced they were negotiating contracts on 7 new solar farms to total 260 MW, each incorporating 4 hours of battery storage:

  • three projects on Oahu totaling 120 MW and 515 MWh of battery storage
  • two projects on Maui totaling 75 MW and 300 MWh of storage
  • two projects on Hawaii totaling 60 MW and 240 MWh of storage

These projects still need community consultation and Public Utility Commission approval.[74]

Canceled projects[edit]

  • Oahu - Ka La Nui Solar Farm, 15MW[75]
  • Oahu - Waiawa Solar, 50MW[59]
  • Oahu - Mililani South Solar Park, 20 MW[76][77][78][79]
  • Oahu - IC Sunshine, 5MW[80]
  • Oahu - Hoohana Solar, 20MW[59]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ PUC issues interim decision in Hawaiian Electric rate case Archived 2011-10-16 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ 2018 Energy Facts and Figures, Hawaii State Energy Office, June 2018
  3. ^ a b c Hawaii Solar, SEIA
  4. ^ Hawaii’s largest solar farm goes online in Waianae, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Kathryn Mykleseth, January 25, 2017
  5. ^ New law requires 100-percent renewable energy in Hawaii by 2045, KHON2, Brigette Namata, June 8, 2015
  6. ^ U.S. Solar Market Insight Report Archived 2012-04-18 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ 2014 Top 10 Solar States
  8. ^ Lazar, Jim (8 August 2016). "The Duck is learning to fly in California and Hawaii". Utility Dive. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  9. ^ "End of Hawaii's Solar Credit Program Spells Trouble for Industry". Retrieved 2017-07-31.
  10. ^ "Rooftop Solar in Oahu Crashes With Loss of Net Metering, Lack of Self-Supply Installs". Retrieved 2017-07-31.
  11. ^ "HECO sees significant uptick in self-supply applications". pv magazine USA. Retrieved 2017-07-31.
  12. ^ HECO rule pulled the plug on PV jobs, Hawaii News Now, Jim Mendoz, Sep 22, 2014
  13. ^ A Solar Permit Slowdown Is Chilling Oahu’s Installer Market, greentechmedia, Eric Wesoff, June 12, 2014
  14. ^ Linking isles' energy grids will save money, state says, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Alan Yonan Jr., Jan 22, 2014
  15. ^ "Hawaii approves contracts for 110 MW-AC of utility-scale solar". pv magazine USA. Retrieved 2017-07-31.
  16. ^ Cyanotech Solar Array, Hawaii Renewable Energy Projects Directory, Hawaii State Energy Office
  17. ^ Inside the first fully dispatchable utility solar-storage project in Hawaii, UtilityDive, Peter Maloney, October 29, 2015
  18. ^ Utility lowers rates by nearly 20% in 2016, Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business News, December 7, 2016
  19. ^ Anahola Solar Array set to generate 20% of Kauai's electricity, Hawaii News Now, Nov 8, 2014
  20. ^ REC Solar and KIUC connect Hawaii's largest solar project
  21. ^ "SolarCity selects Tesla batteries for Kauai solar+storage project". Utility Dive. February 18, 2016. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  22. ^ "Tesla launches its Powerpack 2 project in Hawaii, will help Island of Kauai get more out of its solar power". March 8, 2017. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  23. ^ "SolarCity Selects Battery System for Kauaʻi Co-op Solar Storage Project" (PDF).
  24. ^ "AES' New Kauai Solar-Storage 'Peaker' Shows How Fast Battery Costs Are Falling". January 16, 2017. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  25. ^ Hawaii State Solar Power Rebates, Tax Credits, and Incentives
  26. ^ Isles power up in solar rankings Archived 2013-04-15 at
  27. ^ Oahu Wind Integration Study Archived 2011-05-16 at the Wayback Machine.
  28. ^ Hawaii Study: Wind and Solar Can Reliably Supply 25% of Oahu Electricity Needs
  29. ^ Hawaii Energy Facts & Figures May 2015
  30. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2014). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2013" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Retrieved 2014-07-27.
  31. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2013). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2012" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 16. Retrieved 2013-10-11.
  32. ^ Sherwood, Larry (August 2012). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2011" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  33. ^ Sherwood, Larry (June 2011). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2010" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Retrieved 2011-06-29.
  34. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2010). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2009" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-09-25. Retrieved 2010-07-28.
  35. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2009). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2008" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-11-23. Retrieved 2010-07-24.
  36. ^ Hawaii Solar
  37. ^ 2009
  38. ^ 2010
  39. ^ a b c Hawaii Energy Facts & Figures January 2013, State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism Hawaii State Energy Office, January 2013, accessed October 11, 2013
  40. ^ Hawaii Energy Facts & Figures November 2013
  41. ^ Hawaii Energy Facts & Figures November 2014
  42. ^ Hawaii Energy Facts & Figures November 2015
  43. ^ Environmental Leader news: DuPont cuts ribbon on Hawaii solar panel project
  44. ^ Solar Power World
  45. ^ Star Bulletin: Kona Commons gets solar system
  46. ^ Lanai Solar Farm Generating 1.5 MW
  47. ^ "Castle & Cooke's Lanai solar farm getting battery boost". 14 September 2010.
  48. ^ La Ola Solar Farm Now Operating at Full Capacity
  49. ^ REC Solar unveils Hawai‘i’s largest operational solar system Archived 2012-05-31 at the Wayback Machine.
  50. ^ New Kauai solar farm could power 300 homes
  51. ^ Large Solar Farm in Hawaii Opens on Kaua'i Island Archived 2013-02-24 at the Wayback Machine.
  52. ^ Alexander & Baldwin completes 6MW PV plant on Kauai island
  53. ^ Hawaii Energy Facts & Figures, Hawaii State Energy Office, November 2016
  54. ^ Five-Megawatt Kalaeloa Solar Farm Now Generating Power on Oahu
  55. ^ Kalaeloa Renewable Energy Park
  56. ^ a b REC Solar and KIUC Connect Hawaii's Largest Solar Project
  57. ^ Kauai dedicates its Koloa solar project, KHON2, September 25, 2014
  58. ^ Hawaii Gas Dedicates Oahu’s Biggest Active Solar Farm, Solar Industry, Joseph Bebon, August 26, 2016
  59. ^ a b c d e f Hawaiian Electric sends six more Oahu solar contracts to Public Utilities Commission for approval
  60. ^ Hawaii’s largest solar farm goes online in Waianae, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Kathryn Mykleseth, January 25, 2017
  61. ^ Inside the first fully dispatchable utility solar-storage project in Hawaii, UtilityDive, Peter Maloney, October 29, 2015
  62. ^ Tesla's dispatchable solar+storage project in Hawaii brought online , UtilityDive, March 13, 2017
  63. ^ Navy celebrates completion of Waipio solar facility, Ho'okele, May 05, 2017
  64. ^ Navy, Hawaiian Electric Agree to Build Solar Farm, July 25, 2016
  65. ^ Aloha Solar Energy Fund I Solar Project, Hawaii Renewable Energy Projects Directory, Hawaii State Energy Office
  66. ^ Table 6.3. New Utility Scale Generating Units by Operating Company, Plant, and Month, 2018, Electric Power Monthly, U.S. Energy Information Administration
  67. ^ Hawaii regulators approve large Maui solar farm, Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business News, Feb 23, 2016,
  68. ^ 2 more large-scale solar projects for Maui in contract talks], The Maui News, Oct 10, 2018
  69. ^ AES and KIUC break ground on Hawaii’s largest solar-plus-storage system, pv-tech, Tom Kenning, Feb 23, 2018
  70. ^ Navy developing 44 MW solar+storage facility on Kauai , UtilityDive, February 13, 2017
  71. ^ [
  72. ^ a b c RG and Hawaiian Electric Reach New Power Purchase Agreements to Revive Major Solar Projects on Oahu, Maui Electric, January, 1, 2017
  73. ^ Hawaiian Electric to break ground on new solar farm next week , Pacific Business News, April 12, 2018
  74. ^ Hawaiian Electric plans 7 solar+storage projects, adding 260 MW solar , UtilityDive, October 11, 2018
  75. ^ Eight Industrial-Sized Solar Farms in the Works, Honolulu Civil Beat, Sophie Cocke, February 18, 2015
  76. ^ Lana'i - Going Green Archived 2011-07-06 at the Wayback Machine.
  77. ^ Castle & Cooke gets waiver for solar farm
  78. ^ Sustainable Future
  79. ^ Hawaii's biggest solar farm proposed for Mililani fields
  80. ^ IC Sunshine Solar Project
  81. ^ Renewable Energy Projects in Hawaii
  82. ^ [1]

External links[edit]