Kauai, "the Garden Island," may soon get a little greener. A proposed hybrid power plant will potentially provide around 8,000 Hawaiian households with renewable energy.
Last week, Pacific Light & Power sent a letter of intent to the Spanish company Albiasa Corporation, asking them to supply a new power plant with their technology for solar collection and thermal energy storage.
Although the facility would be Hawaii's largest solar project, the 10-megawatt thermal-solar plant will be atypical in its small size.
Solar-thermal plants capture sunlight in "troughs" with strategically arranged mirrors that direct sunlight to heat water, generate steam, and power large turbines. To run at the highest efficiency, these systems need to collect a lot of heat. Thus, solar-thermal plants are usually very large and in areas with almost constant sunny days. For instance, BrightSource Energy is planning a nearly 400-megawatt, solar-thermal facility in southern California.
But by early next year, 1,488 parabolic troughs may be capturing Kauai's less consistent sunbeams, on 100 acres of former farmland between Kekaha and Waimea.
PLP hopes that geothermal technology—which can produce steam with liquids that require less heat and offer more than two hours of energy storage—will allow their smaller-scale, solar-thermal plant to exist economically in a place with less strict weather conditions.
Albiasa's Jesse Tippett says in a statement:
This project shows that we can replicate smaller solar farms and projects across the U.S. and further the growing adoption of renewable energy.
Mahalo to that.