A new study released in February adds evidence that utility grids can handle high levels of renewable energy penetration. The latest study examined adding 500 MW of wind to the electric grid on the Hawaiian island of Oahu (home to Honolulu). The result would be a grid with 25% of the energy coming from wind and solar power.
Results of this study suggest that 400 MW of off-island wind energy and 100 MW of on-island wind energy can be integrated into the Oahu electrical system while maintaining system reliability. Integrating this wind energy, along with 100 MW of solar PV, will eliminate the need to burn approximately 2.8 million barrels of low sulfur fuel oil and 132,000 tons of coal each year. The combined supply from the wind and solar PV plants will comprise just over 25% of Oahu’s projected electricity demand. [emphasis added]
By its nature, the wind and solar power will be largely distributed generation, although much of the wind power reaching Oahu would arrive via undersea transmission. Regardless, it’s a promising opportunity for Hawaiian energy self-reliance.