In 2018, power purchase agreements with an initial term of 20 years were signed with the energy supplier Hawaiian Electric for the two projects. Image: Clearway Energy Group.

On the Hawaiian island of O’ahu, the Clearway Energy Group has started the construction of two large solar-plus storage projects, comprising a total of 76 MW solar PV and 300 MWh battery storage.

Clearway, a developer, owner, and operator of renewable energy assets in the United States and part of the portfolio of independent infrastructure fund manager Global Infrastructure Partners, said last week that the groundwork for its Mililani I Solar and Waiawa Solar Power projects was laid after a traditional Hawaiian blessing . Construction is expected to be completed in 2022.

The company signed 20-year initial Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) for the two power plants in 2018 with the state’s main utility, Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO). Mililani I will have a PV capacity of 39 MW and a battery storage system of 39 MW / 156 MWh (BESS) and Waiawa 36 MW PV paired with a 36 MW / 144 MWh BESS according to the filings filed with the Hawaiian Public Utilities Commission.

The power plants will continue the trend towards renewable energies – and increasingly hybrid resources that combine renewable energies with batteries – to reduce the island nation’s reliance on expensive imported fossil fuels, the price of which can fluctuate, while reducing and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions Hawaii will support its goal of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2045.

“Our continued focus on renewable energy in the state of Hawaii is key to rebuilding our local economy and improving energy reliability for a more resilient future,” said State Governor David Ige.

“Thanks to Clearway and our partners, we can celebrate this important milestone together as we take another step toward our goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045.”

Clearway said the two projects represent a combined investment of $ 280 million and will contribute more than $ 10 million in taxes after creating more than 460 local union jobs during construction. The construction activities are being led by Moss Solar, the solar division of the Moss infrastructure project group.

Moss Solar and Clearway have already worked together on three large solar projects on O’ahu totaling 110MW that were originally proposed by developer SunEdison before bankruptcy. The PPA terms were renegotiated by Clearway with HECO at a lower price and the projects continued, with all three announced in September 2019. The project partners teamed up with the O’ahu Kamehama Schools district on these projects and did it again for the two new ones.

When construction began last week, Scott Seu, President and CEO of HECO, said Clearway’s three existing projects had helped the utility meet its 2020 Renewable Portfolio (RPS) standard of 35%. “Additional large projects with such storage facilities will help us to further decarbonise our energy system by reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels,” said Seu.

Last year, HECO carried out a massive tender process for renewable energies in which the utility submitted contracts from an auction process that sought resources of up to 460 MW / 3 GWh on the islands of Maui and O’ahu. The contracts awarded include a mix of solar, solar plus storage and standalone energy storage. The process was delayed by the COVID pandemic, but HECO started announcing winning offers in mid-2020, including developers such as ENGIE EPS, Plus Power, AES Distributed Energy, and HECO.

Also on O’ahu, the developer 174 Power Global, a subsidiary of the Hanwha Group, signed a contract for 185 million US dollars in September 2020 for a 60 MW PV system with 240 MWh energy storage, from which the electricity will be generated within 20 PPA is sold to HECO years ago. In other recent news, HECO signed a contract with Swell Energy, a developer of virtual home power plants (VPP), to provide 25 MW of solar on customer rooftops in combination with 80 MW of home batteries in O’ahu, Maui and Island of Hawaii to the Capacity of the network and to guarantee Absorb excess wind and solar energy and provide frequency network services.