• A cooperative utility KIUC in Hawaii has exceeded its targeted 50% renewable energy share in the portfolio mix for 2023 and reported 55% was achieved by 2019
  • Most of this comes from utility scale solar, rooftop solar and storage technology supporting the power generated
  • It hopes to report 80% renewable energy mix in the next four years with continued emphasis on solar and storage technologies

A Hawaiian utility has reported reaching 55% renewable energy production on the island of Kaua’i in 2019, which is ahead of its goal of reaching 50% renewables in the electricity supply mix targeted for 2023. Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) credits this feat to a number of factors, including successful partnerships with local landowners and leading renewable companies Tesla and AES Distributed Energy.

The overall renewable energy target for the utility for 2030 is to have 70% of its power supply comprise of renewables. The 55% share, up from 8% in 2010, achieved till the end of 2019 came from 64 MW of utility scale PV with batteries, 31 MW of rooftop solar, more than 16 MW of hydro power and 7 MW of biomass in its portfolio.

“If all goes as planned, we’ll be approaching 80% within 4 years,” said KIUC President and CEO David Bissell.

He explained that the cost of electricity produced by 57 MW of utility scale solar and solar & storage facilities added to the grid since 2014, was lower than the cost of diesel and collectively saved its members $3.8 million in 2019. For the average residential consumer, utility scale solar alone fetched them roughly $50 over the course of the year.

The price benefits – along with environmental concerns – are engaging enough for KIUC to continue on the path to renewables, not to forget the availability of round-the-clock power with energy storage facilities. Going forward, it expects a 14 MW solar and storage project on the premises of Pacific Missile Range Facility with AES to come online by the end of this year, will provide power for less than $0.11 per kWh, around one-third lower than the current cost of diesel.

Another 20 MW solar & storage and pumped storage hydro hybrid power plant called West Kaua’i Energy Project (WKEP) to be completed within 4 years will take the utility’s renewable energy generating capacity to account for around 80%.

Hawaii is aiming to go 100% renewable by 2045; Hawaiian Electric (HECO) targets the same achievement already for 2040. An April 2018 Elemental Excelerator report claimed the island state can speed up its renewable energy goal to reach between 58% to 84% renewable energy share by 2030, as against the state target of 40% by the stated year (see Hawaii Needs Faster Clean Energy Transition).