While the state is moving towards a goal of 100% renewables by 2045, the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative is already accomplishing that on a smaller scale.
KIUC claims that for five hours last Tuesday, all electricity on Kauai — which provides power to a population of about 100,000, including visitors — was generated 100% by renewable resources.
It was not the first time that has happened, according to KIUC in a news release. It was actually one of 11 days in the last five weeks, or since Nov. 22, that KIUC successfully supplied all of the grid’s electric needs with 100% renewables for an extended period lasting several hours.
KIUC’s grid serves the entire island of Kauai without any tie-in to other utilities.
“We didn’t use a drop of fossil fuel for a cumulative total of more than 32 hours during that time frame,” said KIUC’s President and Chief Executive Officer, David Bissell, in a news release. “We believe this is a unique accomplishment for a standalone electrical grid relying on small-scale renewable generation.”
The cooperative’s renewable portfolio is made up of a combination of distributed, which includes solar on rooftops or mounted on the ground, and utility-scale solar, one biomass plant and a number of small hydroelectric generation facilities.
For the past two years, KIUC says it has routinely achieved 90% or more renewable generation during the middle of the day on sunny days.
Last month, KIUC took steps toward the full deployment of renewables by investing in utility-scale battery storage systems at both its Tesla solar facility in Kapaia and AES Distributed Energy facility in Lawai. The storage systems contributed significantly to grid stability.
Both facilities can simultaneously feed solar power to the grid and the batteries for storage and use after sunset.
“We want to provide the cleanest electricity possible, but we have to be mindful that our primary obligation is to provide safe, reliable power to our members at all times,” Bissell said. “Our operations personnel needed ample time to put all the necessary pieces into place before pushing the envelope to 100% renewable. Now we’re doing it routinely.”
Bissell credits current and past KIUC Board members for establishing aggressive targets for renewable production as far back as 2008.
“With the Board’s strategic vision, strong collaboration with our elected officials, the dedication of a highly competent staff and the support of our member-owners, our cooperative is proudly leading the way to a 100% renewable future not just on Kauai, but around the globe,” he said in a statement.