Last week it came to light that fully 17 percent of Hawaiian Electric Co.'s (HECO's) customers have installed solar power. That penetration of distributed solar power is a record for any state or utility in the U.S. It’s ensuring that the utility modernize and develop a stable grid that can handle the increased use of distributed energy resources. So yesterday the utility and Gridco Systems announced a new partnership to use Gridco’s power regulators to help the utility deploy even more solar power.
With that much distributed solar power Hawaii is still far below the amounts of solar power installed in other states. In California for instance, more than 5 gigawatts of distributed solar has been installed. HECO has installed a total of 500 megawatts of solar, according to Utility Dive. Then again 1.4 million people live in Hawaii, 38.8 million people live in California so the amount of solar power per capita is much higher in Hawaii than in California.
Still, with a smaller population base, the amount of solar installed per person was at least 100 watts more per person in Hawaii than in California. Hence the need to better regulate the grid in Hawaii.
“With high-penetration PV on our lines, we see high voltage or back-feed conditions on some circuits,” said Dora Nakafuji, director of renewable energy planning for Hawaiian Electric. Those types of conditions can interrupt the grid, causing brownouts or power outages.
The new In-Line Power Regulators (IRP) by Gridco are able to help integrate increasing levels of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems by maintaining voltage limits. “The Gridco IPR allows us to see what is actually happening right at the pole that serves a cluster of customers. At the same time, it allows us to regulate voltage at that location as needed, based on how much power the PV systems are producing and power consumption by customers at the time of day,” she said. “We can actually get measurements down to the pole closest to the customer load where voltage issues might be occurring. This tells us very specifically what we need to do to manage for those conditions, without affecting everybody on the circuit.”
It’s this type of technology will help HECO triple its distributed generation capacity by 2030.Tweet