KIUC aims at 100% renewables

SUBHEAD: The islands of Ta‘ū and Kauai are part of a bold solar plus battery experiment.

By Henry Curtis on 10 June 2017 for Ililani Media -

Image above: A solar array partnership between KIUC, Solr City and Tesla. From (

Ta‘ū is the easternmost volcanic island of the Samoan Islands and has a population of 600. The island switched from one hundred percent reliance on diesel generators to one hundred percent reliance on solar panels and batteries.

The system consists of 5,328 solar panels with 1.4 megawatts of solar generation capacity, and 60 Tesla Powerpacks. The battery storage system can be recharged in seven hours, and can power the island for three days.

Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) generated more than 90 percent of its electricity from fossil fuels in 2011. Kauai’s two main fossil fuel power plants are the 96.5 MW Port Allen Generation Station and the 27.5 MW Kapaia Power Station.

Kauai currently has sufficient solar to provide almost all of its electricity demand during peak solar periods. Additional solar requires energy storage in order to be able to use the solar in the evening and at night.

Tesla built a 13-megawatt solar energy system consisting of 54,978 photovoltaic panels, combined with a 52 megawatt-hours (MWh) energy storage system consisting of 272 Powerpacks.

The system is located on 50 acres owned by Grove Farm, near Lihue. Tesla will sell electricity to KIUC at 13.9 cents per kilowatt-hour (KWh) for 20 years. The system went on-line in March, 2017.

KIUC adopted a Strategic Plan Update 2016-2030 on January 31, 2017.

“Renewables have increased from six percent of sales in 2007 to 37 percent in 2016. KIUC is rapidly closing in on reaching the 70 percent renewable level by 2030.”

There are 3,500 rooftop solar systems with a capacity of 21 megawatts.

“KIUC has either built or collaborated with third parties on three industrial scale solar projects, including Anahola (12 megawatts), Koloa (12 megawatts), and Port Allen (6 megawatts).

Three smaller privately owned solar arrays in Waimea, Omao and Kapaa contribute 1.6 megawatts total.

Currently under construction is a 13-megawatt solar array with battery storage capability adjacent to the Kapaia Power Station. This project – a partnership with Solar City and Tesla - is the first of its size in the nation.”

“KIUC’s renewable portfolio also includes hydroelectric systems at Wainiha, Waiahi, Kalāheo, Olokele and Waimea/Kekaha, generating a combined total of 10 megawatts to the grid.

A 6-megawatt system is under construction on Gay and Robinson land, and under consideration is an additional project that would combine solar and hydro in a pumped storage system, which could produce 25 megawatts at full capacity.”

“In 2016, Green Energy began operating its 7-megawatt biomass plant just outside Lihue. The plant provides 12 percent of Kauai’s power, and is one of the first plants of its kind in this country: burning wood chips from invasive species and from locally grown trees.”

“In 2016, on some individual days, KIUC derives 97 percent of its energy from renewable sources, including 77 percent from solar. On the average clear day, with solar at or close to full potential, all but one of KIUC’s diesel generators can shut down.”

KIUC plans to develop the 8.3-MW Puu Opae pumped-storage hydro project. A five-mile underground pipeline will connect two ponds on Kauai’s west side. The project recently advanced, with the settlement of a water dispute.

Earthjustice, on behalf of Poai Wai Ola: the West Kaua'i Watershed Alliance, filed a petition with the Commission on Water Resource Management (Water Commission; CWRM) in 2013, seeking to revise the minimum flow in the Waimea River and its tributaries. The complaint also stated that some of the diverted water was being wasted.

The parties involved in the proceedings were the Hawaii Agribusiness Development Corporation, Kekaha Agriculture Association, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and Po’ai Wai Ola.

The Water Commission approved a mediated agreement on April 18.

Waimea River water flow will increase from 16 million gallons per day to around 25 million gallons per day. The Department of Hawaiian Homelands will receive 6.903 million gallons a day from the Kokee Streams for homesteading purposes.

“All streams will be allowed to run from the mountain to the sea and no diversion will ever be a total diversion again.”

“The ditch systems owned by the State of Hawaii's Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC), and currently operated by the Kekaha Agricultural Association (KAA), will continue to be maintained to allow for both present and future uses.”

“Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) will be allowed to complete due diligence on a set of energy projects supported by the Kokee Ditch System, and, if the energy projects are built, will receive from the Kokee ditch system a rolling average of 11 mgd to support both (1) the Puu Opae project and (2) DHHL's water needs under any water reservation the Commission may grant to DHHL.”

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Solar power one island at a time 11/24/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Renewables - the new Fracking? 2/10/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Failing to live off the grid 1/3/16
Ea O Ka Aina: How sustainable is Solar PV? 4/26/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Our Renewable Future 1/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Kicking tie KIUC habit 5/1/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Caron Crash - Solar Dawn 3/19/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Go Nuclear or Go Native 10/20/14
Ea O Ka Aina: CIUK > KIUC 5/8/12
Ea O Ka Aina: The Alternative Energy Matrix 2/8/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Chinese say PV to beat coal 8/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Off-Grid Night Lighting 8/14/09
Island Breath: Dealing With Chaos 10/7/08

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