Hawaiian solar-plus-storage facility offers jobs, educational opportunities


The 36 MW Waiawa Solar farm with 144 MWh of battery storage is an example of a multi-year community commitment that provides career training, education, and lower-cost energy to the island’s residents. Located in Central O’ahu, Waiawa was developed by Clearway Energy Group, and it sits on 180 acres of land leased from Kamehameha Schools.

In partnership with Blue Planet Foundation and the school system, Waiawa Solar provides local and mainland internships and programs for students in renewable energy education.  The partnership with the school system was formed in 2018, and it has since supported 15 summer internships, where college students explore a range of renewable energy careers by joining the Clearway Energy team. It also supports classroom programs and events to teach Hawaii students about climate change and renewable energy. Blue Planet Foundation joined the partnership last year, helping to support programming and events reaching over 1,900 students and teachers in Hawaii.

“We are especially proud of working with Kamehameha Schools and Blue Planet Foundation to create access to clean energy education and exposure to career pathways,” said Craig Cornelius, chief executive officer of Clearway.

Based in Princeton, N.J., Clearway Energy is a national independent power producer and a leading solar energy developer in Hawaii. This is the company’s second utility-scale solar and battery project on the school’s land in O’ahu and the fifth utility-scale solar project that it has developed on the island.

“Our collaboration with Clearway has provided us with paths to steward our ‘āina [land] in ways to reduce Hawaii’s dependence on fossil fuels while bringing ‘āina-based learning to haumāna [apprentice] through partnerships and innovations,” Kamehameha Schools’ vice president of community and ‘Ᾱina Resiliency Kā’eo Duarte said. “We congratulate Clearway and Hawaiian Electric in reaching this milestone which we believe will help to contribute to the resiliency of our communities.”

The solar farm generates enough clean electricity to power about 7,600 homes at about half the cost of fossil fuels. Project construction was led by Moss and the batteries were supplied by Wärtsilä.

“As we work to stabilize energy costs for our customers, projects like Waiawa Solar play a critical role by feeding electricity to the grid at about half the cost of oil,” said Shelee Kimura, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric. “Mahalo to Clearway and Kamehameha Schools for their contributions as we all work together to decarbonize our energy system. We look forward to bringing even more benefits to our communities as six additional projects come online over the next two years on O’ahu.”

Clearway Energy has developed renewable projects in Hawaii since 2019, including a 45.9 MW site in Waipi’o, a 14.7 MW site in Mililani, and a 49 MW site in Kawailoa on O’ahu’s North Shore. In August 2022, Clearway completed O’ahu’s first utility-scale solar and battery project in the Mililani Agricultural Park. Altogether, the five solar projects total 185 MW for Hawaiian Electric’s grid and generate enough clean electricity to power more than 45,500 O’ahu homes each year.

Blue Planet Foundation is a Hawaiian nonprofit dedicated to bringing a renewable energy economy to Hawaii. It was launched by Henk Rogers, who was part of the original Tetris design team. Following the game’s success, Henk refocused his energy on energy and environmental endeavors including Blue Planet Energy, an energy storage company that makes batteries for home and commercial use, and Blue Planet Foundation.

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