Lanai Solar Farm Says Mahalo For Upgrade

You think Hawaii, you think sunshine. But the skies over the islands are actually quite variable, and that can present problems for a solar operation. Now Xtreme Power says it’s helping a Lanai developer overcome the cloud challenge with technology that smooths and controls energy output, allowing Hawaii’s largest solar photovoltaic energy farm to reach its design capacity of 1.2 megawatts.

Xtreme said that because of high variability in output, the La Ola solar farm on the island of Lanai has been limited to delivering just 600 kilowatts onto the local utility grid since it came online in late 2008. With the addition of what Xtreme calls “dynamic power resource” management to mitigate the shifts in output, the utility will allow La Ola to double its grid contribution and provide about 10 percent of the electricity needed for the small, privately held island a few miles off Maui’s western coast.

image via Sandia National Laboratories

“Throughout the life of this project, we have searched for the best way to overcome the performance issues inherent to all solar energy installations and to yield the maximum energy output,” Castle & Cooke President Harry Saunders said in a press release. “Xtreme Power understood the complexity of finding the balance of our energy storage and power management needs.”

Castle & Cooke was once one of the Hawaii’s biggest agriculture companies. It’s now the real estate and development arm of David H. Murdock’s privately held empire that includes Dole Food Company. As owner of Lanai, Castle & Cooke employs nearly half of the 3,100 people who live on the island.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.