AES Hawaii unveils Hawaii’s largest solar plus storage facility on Maui

Published on June 12, 2024 by Chris Galford

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Hawaii gained its largest solar facility to date, thanks to the creation of the 60 MW Kuihelani by AES Hawaii on the island of Maui.

This solar-plus-storage facility also brought with it 240 MW hours of lithium-ion battery energy storage capable of supplying roughly 15 percent of the island’s energy needs. As of May 31, 2024, Hawaiian Electric purchased that energy for the next 25 years, and will provide its energy to the grid at 8 cents per kW hour, the lowest renewable energy cost in the state. In a statement, it noted that it could provide enough power to support some 27,000 homes.

Not only is Kuihelani the biggest of its kind in Hawaii, though – for AES Hawaii, it’s also the first of its kind on Maui.

“Kuihelani Solar-plus-Storage exemplifies what is possible for powering our future when you combine an exceptional renewable energy project with community-minded partners to provide an essential service for living and working in Hawaii,” Sandra Larsen, AES Hawaii president, said. “We broke ground in July 2022, overcame challenges posed by supply chain logistics, and are now producing much-needed clean energy for Maui’s power grid.”

The project’s results could also be felt immediately – Hawaiian Electric signaled it will offset the need to import 2 million barrels of oil for energy production on Maui. Even while in use, the site won’t impact existing land use, though. Hoolu Aina Farms will be able to graze sheep on the land under an arrangement with AES Hawaii.

“With this project, our state takes another significant step towards achieving our renewable energy goals,” Colton Ching, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president of planning & technology, said. “Adding both renewable power and energy storage will help reduce our use of fossil fuels, protect us from the effects of climate change, ensure reliable service and provide energy security for Maui.”

The companies reported Kuihelani to have provided hundreds of jobs and generated approximately $68 million for Maui’s economy over the course of construction. It’s now spread across 450 acres in the center of the island.