Hawaii’s New $7 Million Federal Grants Aim to Increase Solar and Renewable Energy Integration Into Electric Grids

The State of Hawai’i was awarded more than $7 million in federal grants for renewable energy projects that include increasing solar energy and electric vehicles in Hawai’i, Governor Neil Abercrombie announced at today’s opening of the 2011 Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced the following grants:
  • $6.1 million to the University of Hawai’i (UH) to work with industry partners to allow the electric grid to take on more solar energy by developing and demonstrating state of the art photovoltaic (PV) inverters
  • $750,000 to state Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) to provide technical assistance to the Public Utilities Commission and ultimately help remove barriers to allow for more renewable energy on the electric grid
  • $300,000 to the UH Maui College in partnership with DBEDT and private industry to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in Hawai’i
“To move beyond just talking about energy independence in Hawai’i, many people are now doing the intricate and necessary technical work behind the scenes,” Governor Abercrombie said. “The partnerships we are building among government agencies, utilities and private companies are advancing our plans to grow a sustainable economy here in the islands. And our strong alignment with President Obama’s clean energy initiatives opens up new opportunities for Hawai’i agencies, companies, and entrepreneurs.”
The number of PV systems, which generate electricity from sunlight, has doubled in each of the last three years, making Hawai’i second in the nation in photovoltaic per capita use. The two federal grants received by DBEDT and UH will help improve the reliability of the electricity delivery system as we continue to expand our use of renewable energy sources. Right now, electricity is generated when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. The projects will address both technical and regulatory changes to address the variability of solar power and other renewable energy.
“The technology developed through these grants has the potential to facilitate a broader adoption of PV systems at lower costs,” said Dr. Rick Rocheleau, Director of UH’s Hawai’i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI).
“These grants are important investments in Hawai’i’s efforts to move toward energy independence,” said Estrella Seese, Acting Energy Program Administrator of DBEDT’s State Energy Office. “With the many strategic partnerships between state agencies including UH, the USDOE and energy industry, Hawai’i is poised to reduce its dependence on imported fuels within two decades.”
The Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo, hosted by DBEDT at the Hawai’i Convention Center, is a meeting place for international leaders and energy experts. Over the next three days, the State of Hawai’i and its partners will host a roster of world-renown speakers who will share diverse insights into the implications of advanced renewable energy technologies along with cutting-edge projects, while offering their perspectives on policy issues, and investment and financing opportunities.
This morning’s speakers also included R. James Woolsey, former Central Intelligence Director, and Dr. George Ka’iliwai, U.S. Pacific Command, Director of Resources and Assessment.

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