Kauai Biomass Project Nears Completion

The new biomass-to-energy power plant near Koloa on Kauai has successfully started its hot commissioning and expects to begin selling electricity to Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) by the beginning of May 2015.

The 6.7-megawatt biomass-to-energy facility will burn wood chips from trees grown and harvested on Kauai.  The plant will provide more than 11 percent of the island’s energy needs.  Once in operation, the plant will replace 3.7 million gallons of imported oil a year.

Once in operation, the plant will replace 3.7 million gallons of imported oil a year.

The plant is being constructed by Green Energy Team LLC (GET), a Hawaii limited liability company, and is using a biomass energy generation technology developed by Standardkessel Baumgarte, a German company that is one of the world leaders in energy technology.

The plant will burn wood chips produced from several sources on Kauai, including short-rotation trees grown on about 2,000 acres of land and several locations on Kauai that have been cleared of invasive species.

The plant will have the capacity to generate 7.5-megawatts of renewable energy to be delivered as electricity to KIUC under a power purchase agreement approved by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission in October 2011. Unlike solar and wind energy, the plant will provide firm power—day and night, independent of weather conditions—to KIUC. It will supply about 11 percent of Kauai’s annual electricity needs and will substitute power produced by diesel generators.

The facility will contribute to the State’s renewable energy portfolio goals that presently aim to have 70 percent of Hawaii’s energy needs from renewable resources. It will also be an addition to KIUC’s renewable energy portfolio, which currently consists of several hydropower projects and the utility co-op’s own two solar farms as well as other solar farms and customer-sited solar photovoltaic systems.

Construction on Green Energy Team’s biomass plant began in January 2013 and is nearly completed. Standardkessel provided the design and equipment for the plant and is providing construction management for the project. Construction was done by Bodell Construction Company; final work shall be completed by Diana Prince Construction, Inc. Financing for construction of the $90 million project is being provided by Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas.

Once completed and operational, Green Energy Team’s plant will create 39 permanent operating jobs and many indirect jobs for local service providers and agricultural operations.

The Kauai-based plant will be the first closed-loop biomass-to-energy plant in the United States and fueled by trees grown on-island. This is also the first commercial biomass project since the period when former sugar companies also sold electricity to Hawaii’s electric utilities.

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