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Kapolei Energy Storage: Powering Hawaii's Future Sustainably

Explore Hawaii's clean energy future with the Kapolei Energy Storage (KES) facility—innovative and resilient, reducing bills and phasing out fossil fuels for sustainable living.

Maria Guerra, Senior Editor-Battery Technology

January 19, 2024

2 Min Read
Stationary batteries
The Kapolei Energy Storage facility on Oahu,HI.Courtesy of Plus Power.

Energy storage facilities play a pivotal role in transforming the landscape of electricity generation and consumption, providing a crucial solution to the challenges presented by intermittent renewable energy sources. The new Kapolei Energy Storage (KES) facility in Oahu, HI, exemplifies energy storage innovation.

The commencement of operations at the KES facility by Plus Power represents a significant milestone in the state's pursuit of a sustainable and clean energy future. Brandon Keefe, Plus Power's Executive Chairman, stated, “It's the first time a battery has been used by a major utility to balance the grid: providing fast frequency response, synthetic inertia, and black start. This project is a postcard from the future—batteries will soon be providing these services, at scale, on the mainland.”

The KES facility marks a milestone in the transition to clean energy, reducing reliance on coal and oil. It utilizes 158 Tesla Megapacks containing lithium iron phosphate batteries, each roughly the size of a shipping container, to store renewable energy, enabling the state to move towards a more sustainable energy mix.

“This is the first time a standalone battery site has provided grid-forming services at this scale – this is a critical application for high renewable penetration grids supplied by 185 MW of Megapack inverters,” stated Mike Snyder, Sr Director, Tesla Megapack.

Related:Battery Energy Storage System Pilot Projects Reshaping Energy

The Hawaiian Electric filing for KES estimated it would reduce electric bills by an average of $0.28 per month over a 20-year contract life. The battery plant's specifications include: 

  • 135 MW / 540 MWH of capacity and energy.

  • 50 MW / 25 MWH of additional 'fast frequency response' to help keep the electric grid stable. 

  • 'Virtual inertia' to replicate the power-smoothing function of a spinning turbine.

  • 'Black start' capabilities, which will support grid recovery in the event of a blackout.

In practical terms, this translates to a more resilient power supply, ensuring that residents can access electricity despite rapidly changing conditions or emergencies. Moreover, the KES batteries play a vital role in replacing the grid capacity formerly provided by an AES coal power plant, underlining Hawaii's commitment to phasing out fossil fuels and embracing clean energy alternatives. This transition becomes increasingly crucial given the closure of the coal plant in September 2022, which once produced up to one-fifth of the electricity on Oahu.

For Hawaiian residents, the operation of the KES facility carries significant and tangible benefits. It brings cleaner, more reliable, and economically advantageous energy solutions, contributing to the overall well-being and sustainability of the community. The advancements made at the KES facility position Hawaii as a leader in the clean energy transition, setting an example for other regions to follow.

Related:Phoenix Pilot Project: SRP and CMBlu's Game-Changing Energy Storage

About the Author(s)

Maria Guerra

Senior Editor-Battery Technology, Informa Markets Engineering

Battery Technology Senior Editor Maria L. Guerra is an electrical engineer with a background in Oil & Gas consulting and experience as a Power/Analog Editor for Electronic Design.  Maria graduated from NYU Tandon School of Engineering with a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (MSEE). She combines her technical expertise with her knack for writing. 

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