How a new mega battery will help Hawaii say goodbye to its last coal generator
American utility-scale energy storage developer Plus Power is to build a 185MW/565MWh battery storage facility in Hawaii that will have as its primary role to ensure that the AES coal plant – the last- remaining coal-fired generation in Hawaii – will end operations in September, 2022.
The Kapolei Energy Storage project is the largest battery storage project selected by Hawaiian Electric, and is a massive boost to Plus Power, kicking the company into the big leagues, an impressive win for a company that boasts only 15 employees and a 12MW battery project to ensure reliability at a car factory microgrid in Mexico.
The KES project will consist of lithium-ion batteries and will be located on roughly eight acres of land in the Kapolei Harborside industrial project where it will interconnect at a critical Hawaiian Electric substation, and will provide load shifting and fast-frequency response to the island grid,
Unanimously supported by the local Neighborhood Board and approved for its Conditional Use Permit-Minor from the City and County of Honolulu, the KES project is expected to begin construction in the Northern Hemisphere’s Summer of 2021 – subject to approval by the Hawai’i Public Utilities Commission.
“At 185 MW/565 MWh, the KES project will provide the scale necessary to transition away from coal and to accelerate Hawaii’s path toward 100 percent renewable energy,” said Bob Rudd, Lead Developer at Plus Power. “We look forward to working closely with all stakeholders to realize this project and deliver its economic and environmental benefits to the people of Oahu.”
Operation of the KES battery storage project is expected for June 2022 which will in turn ensure that the 180MW AES Corporation coal plant on the west side of Oahu will end operations in September 2022. This will mark the end of coal-fired power generation on the islands of Hawaii and propel the state ever closer to its 100% renewable energy target – set for 2045.
Plans to retire the 180MW AES Hawaii power plant at the Campbell Industrial Park have been around for a while now. “The AES contract is expiring, and no one’s interested in renewing it,” said Peter Rosegg, spokesperson for the Hawaiian Electric Companies, speaking in early 2019.
“It’s coal, dirtiest of all our power plants in the system. There’s no question we’ve known for awhile it would retire at the end of the contract. Kahului has been more flexible, but it’s an old plant,” Rosegg added, referring to the 37.6MW oil-fired Kahului Power Plant on the island of Maui, which is similarly expected to close by the end of 2024.
The news of Plus Power’s success comes a fortnightafter the Hawaiian Electric Company announced the successful renewable energy projects for its most recent renewable energy procurement. The company announced in the middle of May that it had selected 16 different projects amounting to a combined 459MW of solar generation and nearly 3GWh of power storage.
“We went big with the scope of this request for proposals to see what the renewable energy market would support and to ensure lots of competition,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for business development and strategic planning.
“The projects chosen provide the best opportunity for customer savings and realistic timelines for completion so we can keep our clean energy transition on track.”
The KES project has been unanimously supported by the local Neighborhood Board and approved for its Conditional Use Permit-Minor from the City and County of Honolulu. It is expected to begin construction in the Northern Hemisphere’s Summer of 2021 – subject to approval by the Hawai’i Public Utilities Commission.