On Wednesday, representatives from Tesla Inc. and Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC), as well as dignitaries from throughout Hawaii, were on-hand for a blessing ceremony of the state’s first dispatchable solar energy plant.
Commissioned by KIUC and owned by Tesla, the utility-scale solar+storage project is located on 50 acres of land in Kapaia owned by Grove Farm, adjacent to KIUC’s Kapaia power station. The plant will feed up to 13 MW of solar power into Kauaʻi’s grid to meet peak demand in the evening hours, utilizing the 52 MWh Tesla Powerpack lithium-ion battery storage system.
“The importance of this project for the member-owners of KIUC can’t be overstated,” said David Bissell, the co-op’s president and CEO, at the event. “By using solar energy stored in the battery after the sun goes down, we will reduce our use of imported fuels and our greenhouse gas emissions significantly.”
Tesla Chief Technical Officer and Co-founder J.B. Straubel, who attended the ceremony, remarked that this is a “future” project that enables communities to reach 100% renewable energy. “For the first time, solar power can deliver 24 hours a day and follow the load when it is needed by the utility,” he said.
According to Bissell, the project is expected to displace the use of 1.6 million gallons of diesel annually for KIUC and will bring the cooperative to more than 40% renewable generation. Bissell added that the project also makes financial sense for KIUC: Under the terms of the 20-year contract, KIUC will pay Tesla 13.9 cents/kWh, which is less than the current cost of oil.
Notably, this is just the latest major solar+storage project Tesla has completed on an island. In November, Tesla’s SolarCity subsidiary announced a microgrid project on Ta’u, an island in the U.S. territory of American Samoa. Using a Tesla storage system, the microgrid can supply almost 100% of the island’s power needs with solar energy.
For more details about the project, check out the Tesla video below: