Hawaiian Electric solar hits new milestone with more than 1,000 MW on five islands
A total of 1,019 megawatts of solar capacity has been integrated into Hawaiian Electric grids as of Dec. 31, 2021, making a new milestone for the company as it works to cut carbon emissions from power generation 70% by 2030.
At the end of 2021, there were 92,504 systems with 1,019 MW (1 gigawatt) of solar capacity and 121 MW of battery storage on the five islands served by Hawaiian Electric. About 312 MW of that solar capacity is from grid-scale facilities with contracts to sell power to the utility.
In 2021, 4,656 private rooftop systems with 51 MW of capacity were added to the company’s five island grids, which now have a total of 92,504 systems. This represents an increase of 5.3% over the 2020 total of 87,848.
“This accomplishment owes its success to the eagerness of our customers to be part of the solar movement, dedicated solar contractors and Hawaiian Electric’s work to smooth the way for more rooftop solar and to create new customer options,” said Lani Shinsato, Hawaiian Electric Customer Energy Resources co-director in a company press release announcement.
“We’re working to encourage even more participation through programs such as Quick Connect and Battery Bonus, working closely with the solar industry and other partners to provide customer opportunities in grid service programs,” she said. “We’ll need maximum customer participation to help drive action on climate change.”
Twenty-one percent of Hawaiian Electric’s residential customers have rooftop solar. On the five islands served by Hawaiian Electric, 32% of single-family homes have rooftop solar; on O‘ahu, it’s 37%. Hawai‘i has among the highest rates of rooftop solar adoption in the nation.
With a commitment to cut carbon emissions from power generation 70% from 2005 levels by 2030, Hawaiian Electric’s Climate Change Action Plan includes the addition of 50,000 rooftop solar systems on homes and businesses over the next nine years. Almost all new systems today include energy storage, giving customers greater control over their energy use and saving them money while supporting the stability and reliability of island grids.
With the urging of Hawaiian Electric and the solar industry, the Public Utilities Commission has raised capacity limits on popular rooftop solar programs, effective Jan. 18.
- For O‘ahu, the capacity limit for Customer Grid Supply-Plus has been raised to 70 MW from 50 MW, and Smart Export has increased to 35 MW from 25 MW.
- For Maui County, CGS+ capacity has been increased to 12 MW, up from 7 MW, and Smart Export has been raised to 10 MW from 5 MW.
- For Hawai‘i Island, CGS+ has been raised to 17 MW from 15 MW, and Smart Export is now 20 MW, up from 10 MW.
In addition, Hawaiian Electric hopes to soon launch shared solar, the newest phase of community-based renewable energy, to provide a way for renters, apartment residents and small businesses and organizations unable to install private rooftop solar to benefit from solar electricity generated on their island.