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Solar projects ditched, delayed

Supply chain problems and other unfavorable circumstances have led to the cancellation of one Big Island large solar project and the delay of another, according to documents filed with state regulators.

But a Hawaiian Electric Co. spokeswoman remains optimistic more projects in the hopper will help keep the statewide utility on track toward its goal of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 70% from 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net zero or net negative carbon emissions by 2045 or sooner.

ENGIE EPS Storage Technology, the winner last year of a competitive bid to provide a 60 megawatt solar plus 240 megawatt-hour battery storage facility mauka of Queen Kaahumanu Highway in the Puako area, announced it’s scrapping the project after it failed to negotiate a favorable 25-year power purchase agreement with HECO.

The solar plus battery project, which was slated to be completed in 2023, would have produced 206 gigawatt/hours annually, enough to power 36,000 average Hawaii Island households, as well as avoid 144,000 tons of carbon emissions that would have been produced making the same amount of electricity with fossil fuels, equivalent to taking 32,000 cars off the road.

“We were informed by ENGIE that they decided not to move forward with the Puako Solar project,” HECO spokeswoman Kristen Okinaka said Tuesday. “It’s obviously disappointing when projects like Puako Solar drop out, but there are many other projects moving toward completion. Some other developers have said supply chain issues may cause delays in completing projects, but none have canceled.”

Another project contractor, AES Waikoloa Solar LLC, has notified the state Public Utilities Commission of a “force majeure,” an unforeseeable circumstances that prevents it from fulfilling a contract, that could lead to a delay in its 30 MW, 120 MWh solar plus battery project that was slated to be completed in November, 2022.

That project, which was approved by regulators, is stalled due to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection issuing a withhold release order for certain silica-based products potentially produced by one of its suppliers, according to documents filed with the PUC. Details of the force majeure are kept confidential under contract agreement.

Other projects still ongoing include Keahole Battery Energy Storage, a 12 MW, 12 MWh project slated for completion in April 2023, which awaits regulatory approval.

Another project that’s been approved by regulators is Hale Kuawehi Solar LLC (Innergex), a 30 MW, 120 MWh solar plus battery project in Waimea that’s slated for December, 2022, completion.

In addition, HECO last month put out a request for proposals for renewable projects for the east side of the island, including, but not limited to solar projects. The deadline for submitting proposals is May 17, and projects be operational no later than Dec. 1, 2030.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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