Kauai Leading the Way For Solar in Hawaii


Dear Readers,

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Dear Friends & Readers,

Today, I want to take you to an island where more than seventy Hollywood movies and TV shows had been featured (including the musical  South Pacific,  television series Lilo & Stitch, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones’ Raiders of the Lost Ark, Six Days Seven Nights, the 2005 remake of King Kong, John Ford 1963 film Donovan’s Reef, Tropic Thunder, a scene in opening credit of popular TV show M*A*S*H (helicopter flying over mountain top), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, parts of the 2002 film Dragonfly, major parts of 1966 Elvis Presley film Paradise, Hawaiian Style, and the recently released The Descendants (featuring George Clooney as the lead actor), etc.  Now, do you have the name of the island at the tip of your tongue?  If you are thinking about the oldest and the fourth largest of the main Hawaiian Islands also known as the “Garden Isle”, then you are on the right track!  At about 105 miles (169 km) northwest of O’ahu, across the Kauai Channel, is the site of Waimea Canyon State Park, also known as the Kauai island of Hawaii.

Idyllic Garden Isle of Kauai, with swaying palms, mountains, beautiful clouds, and taro pond (Photographed by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker)

Beautiful sunset of Kauai (Photographed by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker)

I came and spent about a week at this Garden Isle, Kauai, not just for its idyllic scenery and laid back island pace of life, but also to visit its various solar installations, the largest system of its kind in the state of Hawaii. Hawaii’s imported energy costs are three times higher, and will soon to be close to  four times higher than the mainland.  With its tropical location providing lots of sunshine, it is no wonder that Hawaii has great  motivation to become one of the highest users of solar energy among our fifty states.  Currently Hawaii solar incentives include generous rebates for solar electric and solar hot water systems.  Combining with Federal solar rebates, the solar panel installations for residents and businesses in Hawaii would cost approximately 65% less.  Please refer to this link for Hawaii’s energy tax credit, solar rebates, and incentives.

Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) spends tens of millions of dollars for oil to power generators each year to make electricity for approximately 60,000 residents and tourists on the island.  When oil prices increase they have no option but to pay even more.  Generating electricity from clean and renewable sources make much better sense financially and environmentally.  In 2010-2011, REC Solar completed the designing, procuring, and managing the installation of a 1.21 MW ground mounted photovoltaic system on 5 acres of non-productive agricultural land above old Kapaa Town on the windward side of Kauai.  It was the largest system of its kind in the state of Hawaii and in Kauai at the time (2011).  Here is a video clip about this project, below:

The project partners KIUC and Kapaa  Solar LLC, who financed the system and negotiated a power purchased agreement (PPA) with KIUC.  “KIUC has long acknowledged that significant investments in additional renewable energy generation will be required for us to achieve our strategic goals of being 50 percent renewable by 2023,” said KIUC Acting President and CEO David Bissell.  “This first utility-scale solar farm on Kauai allows us the opportunity to determine and better understand the physical limitations of high penetration PV on a distribution circuit and to work through some specific technicalities associated with adding large scale intermittent renewables to our generation mix.”  The system will produce an estimated 1.8 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy annually, enough energy to power close to 300 Kauai homes for one year. This solar system will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 40,000 tons throughout the first 30 years of the system’s life.  Please stay tuned in for  more on solar energy project in Kauai in the next post.

~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

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One Response to “Kauai Leading the Way For Solar in Hawaii”

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