Massive HECO solicitation will bring 900 MW of renewables to Hawaii

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The Hawaiian Electric Companies have officially launched the utility’s largest ever request for proposals (RFP) for the procurement of new renewable energy projects.

The RFP is pretty complex in nature, broken down into specific project sizes and locations, with different generation and technology needs over the three islands.

The total RFP, across the islands of Oahu, Hawaii and Maui call for approximately 900 MW of new solar and renewable technologies. Broken by island, the RFP calls for “594 megawatts of solar for Oahu, 135 megawatts for Maui and up to 203 megawatts for Hawaii Island.” What’s more is that this is not the last large procurement we will see from the companies this year, as similar RFPs (in design, not scope) are currently being developed for the islands of Molokai and Lanai.

In that 900 MW total, comes the inclusion of solar’s best friend: energy storage. Broken down by island, the RFP calls for about 200 MW on Oahu and 40 MW on Maui. The MWh deliverance of these batteries is so far unknown, with goals as high as 1,200 MWh on Oahu, which would mean some relatively unheard of 6-hour batteries.

The last capacity figure outlined in the RFP calls for “grid services such as fast frequency response and capacity” in a customer-based fashion. These figures seem to be the least developed so far at this point in the process, with figures ranging from 4 megawatts on Hawaii to 120 megawatts on Oahu.

Naturally, this level of procurement begs the question where the necessity of development is coming from, a question the utility is quick to answer. It also clarifies the generally complex nature of this RFP.

For Oahu, new projects are needed to replace the 180-megawatt coal-fired AES Hawaii plant in Campbell Industrial Park due to close by September 2022. It is the largest single generator on Oahu, meeting 16 percent of peak demand.

Similar circumstances dictate the need for procurement in Maui.

For Maui, the generation and storage is needed for the planned retirement of Kahului Power Plant by the end of 2024.

On the island of Hawaii, the procurement almost looks like a test on the notion that you can never have too much of a good thing, as these projects are coming in the wake of other renewable ventures on the island.

For Hawaii Island, additional renewable generation is sought even assuming the Puna Geothermal Venture plant returns to service and the Hu Honua biomass plant comes online as planned.

In all, the RFP’s 900 MW planned new generation – generating about 2,000,000 MWh annually are among the largest ever planned procurement by a utility known to pv magazine.

As RFP’s are known to do, this one calls for immediate development once projects get awarded. This is reflected by the utility’s goal of having the first projects reach operation in 2022.