Photo credit: Julian Spector
158 Tesla Megapacks will be installed for the 565 MWh project on O'ahu, Hawaii to enable the shutdown of fossil-fueled power plants in 2022. The groundbreaking ceremony marked the beginning of the island's transition to a carbon-free grid by 2045, according to state policy.
O'ahu celebrated the groundbreaking ceremony for a new energy storage facility. Hawaii's last remaining coal-fired power plant will shut down operations on Oahu in September 2022, while gas delivery is prohibitively expensive. As such, the state is installing huge energy storage facilities to keep the grid running smoothly.
Kapolei Energy Storage (KES) will be one of the largest self-contained batteries in the world with a capacity of 185 MW/565 MWh. The company entered into a contract with the utility company, Hawaiian Electric, to maintain the network for the next 20 years, reported CanaryMedia.
"Here, today, on Oahu, Plus Power and Hawaiian Electric are sending a postcard from the future," said Plus Power's lead developer Bob Rudd at a ground blessing ceremony last week. "I'm certain that someday we'll all look back, when there are dozens of projects just like KES on the mainland and all across the world, and we'll think, 'We were there. Hawaii showed the world how to do it first.'"
Tesla's 158 Megapacks will soon be installed on seven acres of land at James Campbell Industrial Park, a heavy industry cluster on the west side of Oahu. KES will take on the responsibility of ensuring network reliability for the one million residents of Oahu and the U.S. military's Indo-Pacific Command facility. In fact, KES will be an early test of whether high-tech clean alternatives can replace fossil-fueled power plants and keep the grid going.
The battery will be able to jump-start the grid if some calamity knocks it out, which grid wonks call "black-start capability." Plus Power specifically designed the battery to prevent the grid from shutting down in the first place. KES will reserve 50 megawatts of capacity to push out in a fraction of a second if grid frequency falls out of safe range, an event that can precede a cascading grid failure. If the problem continues, the full battery will respond with what is called "grid-forming services." KES will replicate and maintain the grid frequency with the physical inertia of its spinning metal turbine, as the coal power plant did, but with digital controls and a field of Tesla batteries—becoming what Plus Power's policy leader Polly Shaw called "the ultimate pacemaker for the grid."
On a daily basis, KES will act as a communal battery for the island as a whole, using the bulk of its capacity to absorb excess midday solar power and feed it back to the grid to serve evening demand. That creates space for more rooftop solar and larger solar fields as Oahu pushes toward 100 percent renewable power.
Hawaiian Electric's modeling suggests KES will store enough to reduce the curtailment of renewables by 69 percent and enable the grid to use 10 percent more renewable energy in its first five years, Shaw noted. The project should save Hawaiian Electric customers more than it costs over the 20-year contract.
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Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.