100% Renewable Hawaii

SUBHEAD: 100% Renewable Hawaii" is inevitable - Your share will likely be what you have installed yourself.

By Juan Wilson on 1 May 2017 for Island Breath -

Image above: Tour of system and battery array needed to power remote house in Alaska. From video below.

The good news is that we will achieve 100% renewable energy here in Hawaii fairly soon.

That news even reaches further abroad. The whole planet Earth will attain that goal sometime in the future as well.

The bad news is that here in Hawaii that will happen only as a result it not being economically feasible to get oil, gas or other sources of energy that can deliver 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week/ 365 days a year support for the power grids to our islands.

Then, as a result, we will have only what renewable energy we have installed before that date. Now there may be  plenty of PV panels on the roofs of homes, businesses and institutions in Hawaii, but only a fraction of that is supported with enough battery storage to get a site through the night, much less a few weeks of rainy weather.

Certainly, solar panel costs are a fraction of what they once were, and they could last thirty years.

But for electrical power self reliance, the battery storage capability is as important, and more ultimately more expensive than the PV panels. That's because most batteries won't last six or seven years. The best we have experienced has been ten years for 3 out of 4 of a set of AGM (glass-mat) sealed batteries.

For of the five of the seven PV systems we run our house on, we use  arrays of four 110 amp-hour deep cycle marine batteries. The oldest still operational were installed in late 2010.

The two battery arrays we use to;
1) operate the outlets and switches in the house through the old circuit board and
2) to run our refrigerator and freezer appliances; each use 8 AGM 6volt 410 amp-hour batteries. Those batteries are five years old and cost more than the solar panels that charge them.

And don't count on running your home system with a gas powered electric generator every night to get around the storage issue. That generator fuel won't be available in the quantity needed to run everybody's house through each night. You can count on the generator for not much longer than a short hurricane emergency with the fuel you have on hand.

Henry Curtis wrote in November 2016:
What if solar were the only energy source? Photo-voltaic panels could absorb light and convert it into electricity between 8 am and 5 pm.

During the intense middle part of the day, from 10 am to 2 pm, the supply would exceed the demand. The excess supply could be stored in an energy storage system, and be available for use from 5 pm to 8 am.

The home or business would use only solar power and hence the average solar penetration would be 100 percent. If in the middle of the day the solar electricity being generated were three times the demand, then the solar capacity would be 300 percent.

Hawaii PUC Commissioner Michael E. Champley asserted at the VERGE Hawaii 2016 conference addressed the issue.
“In reality, we`re probably going to need 300 plus percent renewable capacity, if we`re going to get to 100 percent renewable energy.” 
At the present rate of Hawaiian adoption of alternative energy it is unlikely that many will be prepared for a time when the grid on their island goes down and doesn't get up. Even those who are prepared might not have thought out the "arc of story" regarding industrial collapse.

There will come a time when the rare elements and raw materials used to make solar PV panels, charge controllers, inverters - and perhaps most critically storage batteries - will either be unaffordable or unavailable.

I speak of batteries as "being critical" because the panels have particularly long lives (assuming hurricane debris doesn't take them out) and the inverters and controllers, if used properly seem fairly rugged. It's the batteries that get ruined fast if you decide to keep the freezer going through just a few weeks of cloudy weather off-grid with just a single battery charge.

I often say running a solar powered house is like sailing a boat. On a boat the sailor has to be constantly aware of the wind direction and strength. At any moment the wind could change direction and strength and wreck his vessel.

So when I say "100% Renewable Hawaii" it is because it is inevitable - one way or another. And what power you have available will be because you installed an off-grid system.

But that off-grid system storage capability will degrade over time and you will not be able to fully replace it... and over time you will learn to live with less electricity -  and eventually just a little - and if you live long enough you might live here in Hawaii like the early Polynesians did - with no electricity.

But that's okay. You'll have been weaned.

Video above: "Off Grid Electricity in Remote Alaska". From (https://youtu.be/pij7SjOx4xA).

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Alaska turning to microgrids 3/6/17

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