HONOLULU, March 19, 2014 – The Hawaiian Electric Companies are now sharing “Renewable Watch” for Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island, online displays that show the daily contribution of solar and wind generation on each island and how energy from these resources changes throughout the day.
Each island’s display shows the measured output from large wind and solar facilities combined with the estimated output from residential rooftop PV systems. These sites graphically show how renewable energy resources can vary significantly by region, day, and time of day due to changes in weather, such as wind strength and cloud cover. (Non-variable renewable energy generation -- such as geothermal on Hawaii Island, bagasse-fired generation from HC&S on Maui and HPOWER on Oahu -- are not shown.)
“Hawaii is blessed with abundant sunshine and strong winds. With the ‘Renewable Watch’ displays, anyone can see at a glance that these are extremely productive resources with output that varies throughout the day,” said Scott Seu, Hawaiian Electric vice president for energy resources and operations. “With the help of these resources and others, we reached a record 18% renewable energy percentage in 2013.”
The Solar Electric Power Association ranks Hawaii number one in the nation for solar watts per customer. At the end of 2013, over 40,000 solar installations across the three companies’ service territories had a combined capacity of about 300 megawatts.
To maintain reliable electric service for all customers, utility engineers must adjust the output of firm sources of generation up or down as the output from variable sources like solar and wind rises and falls throughout the day. The Hawaiian Electric Companies developed “Renewable Watch” to help system operators and engineers obtain information about the contribution of energy from the variable solar and wind resources.
“This information can help us integrate higher levels of renewable energy more effectively. Solar and wind power are increasingly important to our energy mix, so we need to understand when and how these resources affect our system,” Seu said.
Data from wind facilities and utility-scale solar facilities for “Renewable Watch” comes from utility system-monitoring equipment. Data for customer-sited solar power comes from regional estimates using solar sensors strategically placed throughout the islands and other sources. Solar sensors monitor irradiance (the rate at which solar energy falls onto a surface) to help estimate the energy generated by thousands of PV systems across the island.
Displays of additional renewable resources will be added to "Renewable Watch" screens as they come online.
Note: “Renewable Watch” screen shots for each island are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and are included in the email that delivered this news release.