Hawaii’s Big Island Also Big On Renewable Energy - Smart Energy Decisions

Solar, Sourcing Renewables, Wind  -  May 12, 2021

Hawaii’s Big Island Also Big On Renewable Energy

Thanks to three large solar projects, Hawaii Island – also known as the Big Island - may be the first in the state to hit 100% of its renewable energy goal, hitting that mark by 2023 and reaching 110% by 2024, according to the Hawaiian Electric Company. 

The Aloha State committed to powering 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2045. The Big Island registered a 43% renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in 2020. By comparison, Maui registered about 41% RPS, while Oahu hit 25%, according to Hawaiian Electric’s 2019-2020 Sustainability Report. Kauai, which operates its own grid, the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, registered 56%.

“I think we have this gem of an accomplishment on the Big Island,” Colton Ching, Hawaiian Electric’s senior vice president of planning and technology, said during a recent Hawaii Island Sustainability Summit, according to a report in the Honolulu Civil Beat. “And it’s going to be an even bigger gem in a couple of years. It’s something to really be proud of, as an island and as a community,” he said. “Those are numbers that other islands, other states, other countries are just right now dreaming of achieving.”

 With 120 megawatts of solar production and storage capacity under development now, Hawaii could hit 100% RPS by 2023 and move beyond that the following year.

The report noted that the Big Island is not as land constrained as other islands such as Oahu, an advantage as wind and solar projects require vast acres of land. Also, collaborative work began early between communities, developers, and landowners, allowing developers to get off the ground quickly. A diverse portfolio of renewables – wind, solar, battery energy storage, geothermal, biodiesel – also helps the island to achieve higher RPS levels.

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