The Hawaii Congressional Delegation has announced $3.4 million in federal funds will go to Hawaiian Electric Company to improve electric grid technology. The funding is notable as Hawaii is making an aggressive push to be on 100% renewable energy by 2045 or sooner.
Hawaiian Electric Company, which operates utilities on Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Hawaii Island, received a $1 million Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium grant focused on Hawaii, $2.4 million as part of the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, and is a partner on a $3.8 million Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium project. The funding will go toward research and demonstration projects that will improve Hawaiian Electric’s ability to accommodate more rooftop solar panels on homes and businesses and greater use of large batteries and other systems to store power for when the sun is not shining.
“We have all been frustrated by the technical challenges that have slowed down the amount of PV that can be put on the grid,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “This project is exciting because it breaks new ground and is a fundamental shift in the design of our grids. This innovation will allow more customers to send electricity back to the grid without destabilizing the system. That’s a real positive for renewable energy.”
Hawaiian Electric Company will work with California-based Stem to develop solar storage technology. As part of the three-year project, Stem plans to deploy its intelligent storage systems at local businesses on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island.
The Hawaii project is one of six that will be happening across the US as part of a broader effort by the Department of Energy to modernize the nation’s energy grid. In total, the Department of Energy plans to spend about $18 million on the first six projects through the “SunShot Initiative”. The projects aim to create an affordable pathway toward the efficient and sustainable integration of solar energy on the nation’s electrical grid in much larger amounts than currently possible. These projects are either led by a utility company or include a utility company as a key partner, and the teams will conduct at least a one-year field demonstration of their technologies.