Hawaiian Electric’s tender winners announce another 1,075MWh of battery plans

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Selected by HECO following its RFP, ENGIE subsidiary ENGIE EPS has already announced its proposal to build a 60MW(AC) / 240MWh solar-plus-storage project (artist’s rendering shown). Image: ENGIE EPS.

Another three developers with more than a gigawatt-hour of wins in Hawaiian Electric’s (HECO’s) massive solar-plus-storage and standalone energy storage tenders have gone public with size and location details of their proposed projects.

HECO made awards for 460MW of solar PV and nearly 3GWh of energy storage – the latter either paired with solar or standalone facilities – in May, following a tender process that launched in August 2019. The 16 awarded projects, including two ‘self-build’ proposals by the utility itself, all remain subject to approval by the US state’s regulator, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (HPUC).

HECO had said that it would give details of winners of its request for proposals (RFP) for variable renewable dispatch generation and energy storage within a month of the 11 May awards announcement date. HECO also said however that the publication of sizes and locations of projects “could happen sooner if developers began community engagement efforts immediately”.

Two developers, ENGIE EPS and Plus Power have already said that they were among the chosen bidders, with a 60MW(AC) solar farm with 240MWh of battery storage and a 185MW / 565MWh standalone battery storage plant proposed respectively.

HECO additionally selected itself to execute a 40MW / 160MWh load-shifting battery storage plant project on the island of Maui and a much smaller, 12MW / 12MWh contingency-supporting battery energy storage system (BESS) project on Hawaii Island. These were two out of a total of five self-build projects the utility had proposed. Together, that means that almost 1GWh (977MWh) of battery awards had been made public so far ahead of the latest announcements.

AES DE, Longroad Energy and SB Energy come forward

In the past few days, developers AES Distributed Energy (AES DE), Longroad Energy and SB Energy have said that they are behind winning bids totalling 1,075MWh of battery storage along with significant solar energy generation capacity.

AES DE, the solar PV and solar-plus-storage developer arm of AES Corporation, said it was selected for two projects, both solar-plus-storage and both on the island of Oahu. One smaller project pairs of 19.5MWdc solar PV with 35MWh of battery storage while the other, larger project pairs a 60MWdc PV plant with a 240MWh BESS. AES Corporation’s 180MW coal power plant on Oahu is Hawaii’s last-remaining active coal power plant and is scheduled for retirement by September 2022, and this was among the reasons for HECO’s procurement drive, which also supports the state’s “100% clean energy by 2045” policy goal.

Longroad Energy, a developer started up in 2016 by executives of First Wind when that company was sold off, is part-owned by a New Zealand sovereign wealth fund, the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. Longroad Energy said it successfully bid in the HECO tender and negotiated power purchase agreements (PPAs) with the utility for two large-scale solar-plus-storage plants. One of those, Mahi Solar, is also on Oahu and will be 120MW(AC) of generation and 480MWh of batteries, the other, called Pulehu Solar, is a 40MW(AC) / 160MWh project on Maui. Longroad, which has already developed 150MW of operational wind and 110MW of operational solar capacity in Hawaii, said the 120MW Mahi Solar project awarded by HECO will be the state’s largest solar plant to date.

Finally, SB Energy, the renewable power arm of Japan-headquartered telecoms and investment company Softbank, said that Pacific Green Ikehu LLC, a development company it owns and operates, has proposed to develop Kamaole Solar, another 40MW / 160MWh solar-plus-storage project on Maui Island. SB Energy last week said it has created a community outreach plan relating to the project, which will occupy around 320 acres of land. The company noted that a “comprehensive permitting strategy has been prepared” to support the project’s implementation, with the proposal now required to also meet the approval of the Maui Planning Commission and other local authorities.

The Kamaole Solar Project will proactively reach out to and engage the community to listen for concerns and opportunities for support,” SB Energy said, adding that the proposal has received support from Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino.

“Frequent and meaningful communication will be critical for minimising impacts and maximising the benefits of the project on a timely basis.” 

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