In 2016 Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) increased its total renewable energy generation to 26 percent, making strong progress toward its goal to source 100 percent of its electricity from clean energy by 2040. Looking ahead the utility plans to double the amount of commercial and rooftop solar installations in its service area by 2030 and is installing 110 megawatts of utility-scale solar that will come online in 2019.
Overall, HECO increased renewable energy generation 3 percent, from 23 percent to 26 percent during 2016. On Hawaii Island, the company generated 54 percent of its energy from renewables, up from 49 percent in 2015. Maui County reached an all-time high of 37 percent clean energy generation, up from 35 percent in 2015. On Oahu, HECO generated 19 percent of its electricity from renewables.
The increased renewable energy has allowed HECO to reduce its use of imported oil to power electric generators, curbing its greenhouse gas emissions by 21 percent between 2008 and 2016. During that period its use of oil fell from 10.7 million barrels to 8.5 million barrels. Its greenhouse emissions are now 16 percent below its 2010 levels.
The company forecasts that it will generate 48 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, 72 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by the end of 2040. By reaching 100 percent renewable energy by 2040, the will be five-years ahead of Hawaii’s renewable energy goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.
With 79,000 current rooftop solar customers, HECO has one of the highest concentrations of rooftop solar installations in the US. It’s plans to modernize grid infrastructure could allow it to double its rooftop solar customers to 165,000 by 2030. The utility has 12 fast-charging EV stations throughout its five-island service and plans to add more to power the more than 5,000 electric vehicles (EV) on the road throughout the state.
The utility recently agreed to partner with NRG Energy to develop the 49 megawatt Kawailoa Solar facility on Oahu. "Reaching this agreement on Kawailoa Solar is another big step in our renewable energy plans for Oahu," said Alan Oshima, HECO president and CEO. "Our goal is always to bring better value to our customers, who will now get the benefits of lower prices for clean, renewable energy over the life of our contracts."
With the application of Hawaii state tax credit, the solar array will provide electricity to its customers at 11 cents per kilowatt-hour. The facility will be located directly adjacent to a 69 megawatt wind farm that has provided Oahu with 10 percent of its energy needs since 2012. The utility is also expanding its solar portfolio by developing a 14.7 megawatt facility in Lanikuhana and a 45.9 megawatt project in Waipio.Tweet