Hawaiian Electric Seeks 60 – 200 MW Energy Storage to Support Renewables for Oahu

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To meet its goal of adding more renewables to the Oahu grid, HECO seeks one or more large-scale energy storage systems that can store 60 to 200 MW for up to 30 minutes. Proposals are due July 21, 2014, and must include a schedule that has the energy storage system in service in the first quarter of 2017.  

Solar in Hawaii has been in turmoil, and the rest of the country is watching. With increasing grid penetration from solar there, Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) is scrambling to keep up. On Oahu, over 11% of HECO customers now have rooftop solar. But many Hawaii residents have complained of hurdles like long waiting periods for interconnection.  

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently told HECO it had to step up its efforts to connect more solar PV systems to the grid.  

Whether in response to that or because it’s the next logical step, HECO has announced that it’s seeking proposals for storage systems. HECO says that to meet its goal of adding more renewable generation to the Oahu grid, it needs one or more large-scale energy storage systems that can store 60 to 200 MW for up to 30 minutes. Potential bidders are to submit proposals that include engineering, procurement, construction, testing, commissioning, startup, and performance verification.  

It’s not just rooftop solar that’s increased in Hawaii but also utility-scale wind and solar. So HECO says it needs energy storage to help deal with sudden changes in availability of these variable resources. When power supplied by these solar or wind drops suddenly, energy storage systems could help maintain reliable service and avoid customer outages as fast-starting firm generation units are brought online.     

“Energy storage is one of the key missing elements in integrating high levels of renewable energy from variable sources like solar and wind,” said Colton Ching, Hawaiian Electric vice president for energy delivery, in a statement.   Energy storage can provide not only electricity but also “auxiliary services” to operate the grid, such as sub-second frequency response (near-instantaneous changes to keep power quality at 60-hertz) and minute-to-minute load following (power output adjustments as demand for electricity fluctuates throughout the day).

Potential contractors will be evaluated on the overall cost of their proposals and non-price factors such as design concept and feasibility, implementation and operational viability, and operating flexibility. Bidders are invited to propose the best available technologies, including batteries, mechanical flywheels, capacitors, compressed gas systems, pumped hydro storage, or a combination of such technologies.  

Any project selected with a cost of $2.5 million or more must be reviewed and approved by the PUC with input from the Consumer Advocate. The target is to complete and file energy storage agreements with the PUC by the end of 2014. Bidders must provide a schedule with the goal of having the energy storage system in service in the first quarter of 2017.  

The deadline for proposals is July 21, 2014. The complete request for proposals may be reviewed at HECO’s website.