Hawaii Wind Power Gets Energy Storage

Long cycle life is important for a battery in any circumstance. But when batteries are storing power produced from wind, and they’re tied into the grid, they also need the ability to respond to rapid fluctuations in supply and demand. Altairnano says that’s what its batteries do well, and those batteries are about to get a test at the Hawi wind power plant on the northern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii.

The Nevada company said it was awarded a $1.8 million contract to supply a 1-megawatt ALTI-ESS energy storage system at the Hawi plant, run by the Hawai’i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) of the University of Hawaii at Manoa and connected to the Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO) grid.

Hawi wind power plant, Hawaii, Big Island

image via National Renewable Energy Laboratory

“The test is expected to demonstrate solutions for integration of greater levels of renewable energy onto the grid, improving capacity utilization, and reducing dependency on fossil-fuel power generation while maintaining grid performance and reliability,” Altairnano said.

The company emphasized in the announcement that this was a “firm contract,” an apparent allusion to earlier word, put out last August, that it had signed a memorandum of understanding to supply the system. In the announcement, a HELCO rep said the project would help the company in its quest to reduce fossil fuel dependency to zero, as it now generates just over one-third of its power from renewable sources.

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.