University of Hawaii System newsletter

Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute Conducts Wind and Solar Study

Posted on | March 25, 2011 | Comments Off

wind farm

Kahuku Wind Project (image courtesy of HECO).

When combined with Oʻahu wind farms and solar energy, the Interisland Wind project, which planned to bring 400 megawatts of wind power from Molokaʻi and Lanaʻi to Oʻahu, can reliably supply more than 25 percent of Oʻahu’s projected electricity demand, according to the Oʻahu Wind Integration Study. The OWIS was conducted by the Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute, General Electric Company and the Hawaiian Electric Company.
For the purposes of the research project, the OWIS examined the impact on the Oʻahu grid of a total of 500 MW of wind energy and a nominal 100 MW of solar power, though a good deal more utility-scale and customer-sited solar power is expected on Oʻahu.
The study found that the 500 MW of wind and 100 MW of solar power could eliminate the need to burn approximately 2.8 million barrels of low sulfur fuel oil and 132,000 tons of coal each year while maintaining system reliability, if a number of recommendations are incorporated, including:

• provide state-of-the-art wind power forecasting to help anticipate the amount of power that will be available from wind;
• increase power reserves to help manage wind variability and uncertainty in wind power forecasts;
• reduce minimum stable operating power of baseload generating units to provide more power reserves
• increase ramp rates (the time it takes to increase or decrease output) of Hawaiian Electric’s thermal generating units;
• implement severe weather monitoring to ensure adequate power generation is available during periods of higher wind power variability and
• evaluate other resources capable of contributing reserve, such as fast-starting thermal generating units and load control programs.

“The findings of this study show it is feasible to integrate large-scale wind and solar projects on Oʻahu but also have value beyond Hawaiʻi. Both large mainland utilities and relatively small and/or isolated grids that wish to integrate significant amounts of renewable energy while maintaining reliability for their customers can learn from this study,” says Richard Rocheleau, HNEI director.
Read the news release.