Hawaii has been called a “postcard from the future” due to the high levels of renewable energy being deployed and technical work that is being done to accommodate this. But even for Hawaii the amount of solar that has been put online in the island of Kaua’i is impressive, as are the technical challenges being faced. With the recent addition of a 12 MW-AC solar PV and integrated battery storage project, Kaua’i is now getting an estimated 17.5% of its annual electricity from solar PV – roughly double that of Italy, which meets the highest portion of electricity demand with PV of any nation in the world. When the island’s biomass and hydro are factored in, Kaua’i met an estimated 38% of its electricity with renewables in 2015, more than Germany or California. And this is only the beginning. SolarCity is planning another 12 MW-AC PV plant with integrated storage, and the island expects to meet 25% of annual demand with PV in 2018. There are two key takeaways. First: As Kaua’i is proving, any alleged “limits” to levels of wind and solar integration are a joke when energy storage (including pumped hydro) is considered. Second: if Kaua’i can do this, there is no excuse for other regions, where the integration of high levels of wind and solar does not face these sorts of technical challenges and unfavorable conditions.
Energy Media & Society 3rd Jan 2016 read more »