New Solar Upgrades to Minimize Power Curtailment Issues in Hawaii
By Utilities Tech Outlook | Friday, March 29, 2019
De-linking of rooftop solar generators was standard practice in Hawaii to avoid over-power supply. The de-linking process might change as the refocused solar cum storage contracts are expected to come into effect which will encourage people to reinstall rooftop solar power. Hawaiian’s massive solar installation was unexpected, and the Hawaiian grid was not in the position to accept the change. Increase in installations would produce excess electricity and could cause serious grid management issues. Curtailment of energy was done to avoid damage of power grid. Curtailment levels reached double digits in various parts of Hawaii; hence, the solar owners are recommended to install smarter solar gear.
Public Utilities Commission of Hawaii will review utility-scale solar projects that can be applied in Hawaii. The amount available which is defined by net energy potential and solar facility available will decide the power purchasing agreement (PPA) rather than considering the energy delivered. The shift in PPA terms will reduce the burden of revenue loss by power curtailment to the solar plant owner and developers. The future wire and pole investment can be reduced if the plant recognizes the need for services and support power grid. Eliminating risks has reduced the cost of PPA price proposals for many solar and storage plants. Hawaii is a solar market, but transmission of power has been an issue as the utilities restrict solar generation load on their systems. The U.S. Solar energy industry association keenly observes that high electricity demand and dependency on imported energy opens a pathway for Hawaii to be the ideal place for the solar market.
The consumers are expected to pay less than $1 for the upgrades, and a total of $86 million cost was expected for the first phase of the upgrade in power grids which started from February 2018 and will continue till 2023. The utilities are working with U.S. National Renewable Energy lab to study ways to manage voltage and problems expected in the power grid. Volt-ampere-reactive is expected to control the power in the grid and the excess electricity from rooftop solar. Power curtailment issue for the upgraded consumers and the annual power curtailment will be less than one percent off generation and for non-upgrade users, power curtailment will relatively be higher.