Hawaiian Electric will begin contract negotiations with developers for 15 renewable energy projects across Oahu, Hawaii Island and Maui, to reduce reliance on imported oil to generate power.

The company seeks to enter long-term contracts for 517MW of variable generation, 654MW of firm generation and 2.1 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of energy storage.

Of the 15 projects, seven will be built on Oahu, four on Hawaii Island and four on Maui. They are part of Hawaiian Electric’s latest phase of renewable energy procurement.

The projects will be completed between 2026 and 2033 and help retire older fossil fuel-based generators.

Among them are three solar plus storage projects with 413GWh of variable generation, four biofuel-based projects totalling 594MW in firm generation and 990 megawatt hours of energy storage, all on Oahu.

Three solar plus storage projects and one wind project with 324GWh of variable generation and 320GWh of storage will be located on Maui.

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By GlobalData

Three solar plus storage projects with 512GWh of variable generation, one firm biofuel-based project with 60MW of firm generation and 834GWh of energy storage will be located on Hawaii Island.

Hawaiian Electric Resource Procurement vice-president Rebecca Dayhuff Matsushima stated: “These projects will help move Hawaii closer to its clean energy goals while adding critical grid reliability with firm renewable energy.

“Adding energy storage and generation from firm renewables to our portfolio will make it easier for Hawaiian Electric to retire older, less flexible fossil fuel-fired plants.”

The Hawaii-based utility will select proposals for firm renewable capacity in January 2024.

Firm renewable power differs from variable sources such as solar and wind as it can generate power at all times.

Previous calls have focused on variable resources, but firm generation broadens the generation mix for the islands via a diverse portfolio of resources.

The company is accepting bids for projects with variable renewable dispatchable energy, allowing control of the resource. A solar facility with energy storage capability, for example, can dispatch electricity to the grid when needed.

Once finalised, the contracts with developers will be submitted to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for review and clearance.

The process of picking bid finalists was supervised by an independent observer and an independent engineer chosen by the Public Utilities Commission.

In August 2023, wildfires broke out in Maui, disrupting Hawaiian Electric’s power lines and resulting in the deaths of at least 99 people, with hundreds more missing.

Questions have been raised over whether the company did enough to mitigate wildfire hazards. These have been followed by class action lawsuits filed by state residents.