New solar farm with energy storage operational in Waiawa

Jan. 16—Another utility-scale solar energy farm with battery storage is now operating on Oahu, putting out enough relatively low-cost electricity to power roughly 7, 600 homes annually.

Another utility-scale solar energy farm with battery storage is now operating on Oahu, putting out enough relatively low-cost electricity to power roughly 7, 600 homes annually.

The $150 million project developed by San Francisco-based Clearway Energy Group recently began commercial power production on 180 acres of land in Waiawa leased from Kamehameha Schools.

The 36-megawatt facility is producing power sold to Hawaiian Electric on Oahu at about half the cost of power from fossil fuels.

The battery system is capable of supplying the grid with 36 megawatts of power for four hours, or 144 megawatt-­hours in total. Electricity from the batteries allows more consistent delivery to the electrical grid during cloudy daytime periods, and can help satisfy variable demand at other times, including between sunset and sunrise.

Gov. Josh Green in a statement called the project an important addition to Oahu's growing portfolio of lower-cost renewable energy production.

"Clean energy is better for our air, our health, and our cost of living, " he said. "We commend Clearway Energy Group and their partners for their continued contribution to providing clean energy at a price that is lower than fossil-fuel alternatives."

The project is Clearway's fifth utility-scale solar farm, and second with batteries, on Oahu. The first one with batteries, a 39-megawatt facility in Mililani, went online in July.

Clearway, which began construction on the Waiawa project in early 2021, announced the commercial operation status Thursday after a testing and commissioning period.

Solar farms with battery storage represent part of a shift to reach a state goal of having 100 % power generation from renewable sources by 2045.

"We are proud to help Hawaii reach its climate goals and invest in renewable energy in the state, " Craig Cornelius, CEO of Clearway, said in a statement. "We are immensely grateful for the collaboration with our partners Hawaiian Electric and Kamehameha Schools who help make those goals a reality."

Shelee Kimura, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric, expects six similar projects on Oahu to come online over the next two years.

"Stabilizing energy costs for our customers is a priority, and projects like Waiawa Solar will feed electricity to the grid at about half the cost of oil, " she said in a statement.

In addition to power production, the Waiawa project will contribute $200, 000 in community benefits over multiple years, including an educational partnership with the Blue Planet Foundation and an annual mainland internship program with Kamehameha Schools students.