The 2045 mandate of 100% renewables seems reachable with a major announcement from the Hawaiian Electric Company this week. Recently, the state regulators received the offer for seven new contracts of solar-plus-storage by Hawaiian Electric Company. The six out of seven deals priced in a record-low, i.e., 10 cents per kilowatt-hour.
The projects would add 262 megawatts of solar energy, and 1,048 megawatt-hours of storage on receiving regulatory approval to be distributed over three islands. According to the company, projects will provide power “in place of volatile prices of fossil fuels,” quoted at around 15 cents per kilowatt-hour.
The developers developing the projects are AES, Clearway, Innergex, and 174 Power Global. These contracts are significant concerning both pricing and volume.
Dan Finn-Foley, the senior energy storage analyst at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, said, “It’s hard to overstate the scale of this announcement.”
These power-purchase agreement contracts would give a big boost to the U.S. storage market on approval from the state’s public utility commission. Presently WoodMac logs 1.4 gigawatt-hours of energy storage installed in the nation, but for Hawaii, it is just 75 megawatt-hours.
Finn-Foley stated that the projects of Hawaiian Electric would help Hawaii’s market grow exponentially by nearly doubling the capacity of what is being installed in the U.S. The announcement of these projects taken altogether would rank as the second-largest storage ever announced keeping Moss Landing project in California which is recently approved, just behind.
According to Finn-Foley “What’s even more notable is the range of PPA prices,” and this makes the announcement most thrilling for clean energy analysts.
Previously in 2016, solar-plus-storage prices in Hawaii came in at 13.9 cents per kilowatt-hour and in 2017, 11 cents per kilowatt-hour. Hawaiian Electric announced one of the projects of size 15 megawatts and storage 60 megawatt-hours at 12 cents per kilowatt-hour which is expensive than the others.
However, there are projects of 90 megawatts of solar and 360 megawatt-hours of storage offered in a “jaw-dropping” 8 cents per kilowatt-hour price according to Finn-Foley. From 2016 to 2019, there is a drop of 42% in solar-plus-storage PPA prices in the State.
The price is just “mind-blowing” according to the executive director at Hawaii’s Solar Energy Association, Will Giese. Finn-Foley also said that “With prices like these, it’s easy to understand the confidence of Hawaiian electric providers that their islands can hit 100 percent renewables ahead of the 2045 mandate.”
For electricity, Hawaii still relies mostly on oil but paving its way to hit the goal of 100 percent renewables by 2045. Alan Oshima, President, and CEO of Hawaiian Electric said that the company made significant progress in 2018 to reach the target. “We have tremendous momentum as we move into 2019,” added Oshima.
According to Hawaiian Electric’s latest numbers, 2017 oil supply was between 58.52 percent and 79.02 percent of electricity depending on the Hawaiian Electric and its subsidiary utilities like Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light. However, the average generation from renewables for all these three utilities in the same year also increased to 27 percent, 1 percent higher than the previous year.
The company also said to help reduce the total oil demand of about 100 million gallons below 2008 levels on approval of projects.
“This will certainly start to become more mainstay for solar-plus-storage PPAs going forward,” said Ravi Manghani, head of storage research, WoodMac. “This reduces the curtailment risk for the developer, which is non-trivial in a market such as Hawaii, but also provides the utility a means to operate the combined solar-plus-storage asset almost like a dispatchable traditional asset in a cost-effective way” explained Manghani.
According to Marco Mangelsdorf, Hawaii’s ProVision Solar, the state is on the way to achieve dispatchability for solar-plus-storage with the announcement of the projects that are capable of providing required grid services and grid support to the electric utility.