By Henry Curtis
In recent years Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) and its subsidiaries MECO and HELCO have downplayed the use of pumped storage hydroelectric which accounts for over 90% of all energy storage in the United States.
Maui County, Parker Ranch and Life of the Land are all proponents of pumped storage hydroelectric.
A HECO spokesperson dismissed energy storage as not ready for prime time at a 2014 Legislative hearing, noting that there are only a few small Hawai`i pilot projects.
Those entities examining the potential of batteries include the Hawai'i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) and the Energy Excelerator, a project of the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research (PICHTR).
Then later in the spring of 2014 HECO appeared to change its tune when it released a battery Request for Proposal.
HECO wants “one or more large-scale energy storage systems able to store 60 to 200 megawatts for up to 30 minutes” to be installed in 2017.
Is this a change at heart or similar to other utility negotiations that go on and on without resolution?
While negotiations continue, the utility makes money and the battery company loses money.
Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) released a battery Request for Proposal in March, recently reached an agreement with the French battery company Saft and installation is expected to occur in October.
Most solar installation companies in Hawai`i focus on large-scale utility projects, military projects and grid-connected net energy metered projects.
Only a few Hawaii companies promote non-grid connected solar/battery systems.
These companies include Blue Pacific Solar, Solar Rayes LLC (Pahoa), SolarCity, Hawaiian Solar, Inc. (Kailua Kona), Island Pacific Energy, Hi-Power Solar, Kama'aina Solar Solutions, and Hawaii Energy Smart.
Voltaic Systems may establish a foothold here.
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