RGS Energy’s Sunetric Provides Solution to Overcome Hawaii Grid Saturation Concerns

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Sunetric announces it has deployed a 198.8 kW PV system with automated curtailment and smart-grid controls at a popular beachfront resort on the island of Kauai. The system ensures that all the electricity generated is consumed by the local facility and not fed back into the utility grid.

Grid saturation worries? No problem.

In Hawaii, where high solar grid penetration has been a big concern, a solution has emerged.

 

Sunetric, a wholly owned subsidiary of RGS Energy (Nasdaq:RGSE), announced today that it has deployed a 198.8 kW PV system with automated curtailment and smart-grid controls at a popular beachfront resort on the island of Kauai.

 

The system ensures that all the electricity generated by the PV system is consumed by the local facility and not fed back into the utility grid. This reduces the impact on the local circuit and makes it easier for the island’s electric utility provider, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC), to manage the grid.

 

The solution addresses the concerns of KIUC and other utilities regarding “grid saturation” — a situation that arises when electricity generated by a solar PV system exceeds the maximum amount allowed on a particular circuit. Since Sunetric’s PV system intelligently avoids flowing electricity back onto the grid, it resolves this issue while providing customers the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy.

 

The Kauai project incorporates solar panels onto a parking canopy and is expected to save the resort more than $30,000 annually in energy costs. KIUC says it has been closely monitoring the PV system through interval data and confirms that the solar array has not exported power to the grid.

 

The Sunetric engineering team spent four months developing, testing, and implementing this custom solution, which can now serves as a model for PV installations in other places where interconnection capacity is a concern. Eventually, that will be a lot of places.

 

The system is funded and owned by Kairos Energy Capital, a Hawaii-based merchant bank that finances and invests in solar.

 

“We partnered with Sunetric to deploy this unique solution because they are one of the largest and most well established local solar developers and installers in Hawaii,” said Larry Gilbert, managing partner and CEO at Kairos Energy Capital. “The Sunetric team brought great engineering know-how and top-notch service to the project, which has become one of our most innovative solar technologies to date. Sunetric now supports our ongoing efforts to help businesses ‘go green’ by adopting solar.”

 

Sunetric’s president, Aaron Kirk, commented: “We are committed to meeting our customers’ special requirements, and we thrive on tackling challenges like this one that involve designing and installing an unconventional curtailment system. It represents our first solar-to-grid curtailment solution that overcomes utility grid saturation concerns common in the Hawaiian Islands. This popular Kauai resort has now created a more sustainable future for themselves and their guests, and we expect other Hawaii resort properties to follow.”

 

While this kind of system may be more suitable for a commercial installation, it will be interesting to see what kinds of solutions could emerge for residential installations to avoid grid saturation. For them, it may take an overhaul of the grid. For now, we’re glad to see anything that overcomes an obstacle to deploying more solar power in Hawaii.