AES Completes Record-Breaking Solar and Battery Plant on Kauai



Picture Credit: AES Corporation

AES Corporation established the planet ’s largest battery plant paired with solar generation Tuesday, on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

This kind of power plant produces cheap, clean energy and also uses batteries to provide power when it is most precious, instead of just as soon as the sunlight shines. That’therefore vital to decarbonizing the island grids of Hawaii, which battle with too much solar power at midday but still rely on fossil-fueled peaker plants at the day.

In the two years as AES announced the job , a flurry of headlines ensued as energy firms drove the price purpose for dispatchable solar successively reduced. While the priciest bids bank on many years of additional battery price declines, the Kauai plant is currently up and operating right now.

The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative is ending up commissioning for the Lawa’I Solar and Energy Storage Project, which combines 28 megawatts of solar capacity using a lithium-ion battery capable of storing 100 megawatt-hours.

The battery alone holds more energy than all but one other U.S. plant: the 120 megawatt-hour center AES built in Escondido in 2017. Taken as a whole, Lawa’I’s storage capacity outranks some other operational solar-paired battery system on earth, based on Wood Mackenzie Power and Renewables. But the ever-growing solar-plus-storage project pipeline means that name won’t even be safe for long.

“This industry is increasing at a phenomenal speed,” said AES President and CEO Andrés Gluski. “I think you’re going to find a whole lot less peaker plants. ”

Solar power at night

AES owns and operates the program on behalf of KIUC, beneath a power purchase arrangement pegged at 11 cents each kilowatt-hour.

The plant delivers solar power every time a standalone solar plant can’t: during nighttime. That offsets the peaker plants which turn on for the day peak; in Hawaii, these plants tend to run on imported oil, at significant cost.

“We’re in the money any moment it’s possible to dispatch to counter petroleum generation,” stated Woody Rubin, president of AES Distributed Energy.

Lawa’I will crank a full output of 20 megawatts for 5 hours. Using 100 megawatt-hours of stored power, the battery may also function similar to a baseload plant, even providing a lower amount of power for longer hours through the night before the sun comes up. AES hopes to cancel 3.7 million gallons of diesel each year by dispatching more cost-effectively compared to fossil fueled incumbents.

An extra capacity, for special occasions: the plant could black start the general grid if an outage knocks out it.

The battery technology allows many more utilize configurations compared to a standalone solar plant, which just produces electricity. Therefore, the procedure for testing out all of the different purposes has been ldquo;a enjoyable moment,”” Rubin said.

“You open up the toy and you start playing it,” he explained.

Clean energy breakthrough

Using the new plant, Kauai will be able to operate for certain areas of the day completely from renewables,” Rubin said. 

Meeting Hawaii’s legislative mandate of 100 percent renewable from 2045, however, requires over midday solar abundance. The early solar-plus-storage plants (Tesla/SolarCity also built one on Kauai) proved that cheap solar power could serve the grid when needed rather than flooding it if there’s already enough power.

“There& & rsquo;s too much discussion about renewable energy, there&; rsquo;s not enough discussion about capacity,” Gluski stated of decarbonization generally. “With magnets set up, it’s a game changer — you are able to create very affordable electricity and turn it in to that 24/7 capacity. ”

Currently, KIUC will be able to match up to 40 percent of day peak power with stored solar power, President and CEO David Bissell said in a declaration.

Kauai's pioneering projects have prompted a wave of followers. AES is building another hybrid system at Pacific Missile Range Facility – Barking Sands Naval Base; it will unite 19.3 megawatts solar capacity using 70 megawatt-hour energy storage.

Only this past week, the Hawaiian Electric Company asked authorities to accept seven new solar-storage plants round the seas of Hawai’I, Maui and O’ahu. That movement confirmed that this form of source will play a very essential part in Hawaii's energy future. All but one of those suggested jobs beat Lawa’I’s price per kilowatt-hour.

AES had two massive plants within that portfolio: one using 30 megawatts/120 megawatt-hours and one with 60 megawatts/240 megawatt-hours, both clocking in at 8 cents a kilowatt-hour.

The concept also made its way to the mainland, together with 3.6 cent per kilowatt-hour median forecasts in Xcel’s Colorado solicitation, also 4.5 cent per kilowatt-hour hybrid system going to Tucson Electric Power. (The decreased prices reflect several things, include building prices on mainland Hawaii, and comparative size of this battery element in comparison with the solar ability.)

It’therefore important to remember that KIUC made the economics work as a relatively tiny firm. It serves 65,000 customers with peak capacity of 125 megawatts. The plant brings its generation mix to 50 percent renewable, and well beyond most every additional utility currently.

“Look to KIUC as a vanguard at the energy transition,” stated Daniel Finn-Foley, energy storage analyst at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables. “It made sense politically and economically there , but the identical rigid wind of change that spanned Hawaii is coming the mainland also. ”


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