Clean Energy Companies Win Funding to Build Innovative Projects in Hawaii

The Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture (HREDV) today announced that five companies will receive funding to commercialize new clean energy innovations. HREDV, a project of the local non-profit organization Pacific International Center for High Technology Research (PICHTR), awarded over $4.3 million through a competitive selection process to five companies in the areas of renewable energy grid integration, advanced biofuels, clean energy for agriculture, and energy storage for wind and solar resources. Companies will match the federal funding with private investment for a total of over $8 million in projects.

“We are challenging the best creative minds in Hawaii and the nation to invent and demonstrate clean energy technologies that not only solve immediate problems, but also create future employment opportunities and economic prosperity,” said Maurice Kaya, HREDV Project Director. “These new projects are pioneering solutions for Hawaii’s energy independence while working to meet the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative goal of 70% clean energy by 2030.”

The winning companies showed how their technologies could be game-changers in Hawaii – by helping integrate high levels of renewable resources in Hawaii’s electricity grids and fuel supplies. The awards represent the second round of funding by HREDV, which deploys U.S. Department of Energy funds to help grow the clean energy sector in Hawaii with appropriations secured at the request of Senator Daniel K. Inouye.

Referentia Systems Incorporated, a Hawaii-based technology company, will develop a secure data system to enable electric utilities on Maui and Oahu to visualize what is happening on the grid in real time. This system will allow utilities to successfully integrate more solar, wind, smart grid technologies, and other clean energy assets. The work leverages technologies that Referentia developed on previous projects in cooperation with the Maui Electric Company and the Department of Defense.

The Gas Company, Hawaii’s clean gas energy provider, will build a pilot plant to process 1 million gallons per year of oil from agricultural and algae feedstocks into higher value products such as synthetic natural gas, gasoline, diesel and hydrogen. The project will produce a renewable gas stream that can be sent to more than 28,000 residential and commercial customers on Oahu through existing pipeline infrastructure.

Big Island Biodiesel, a subsidiary of Maui-based Pacific Biodiesel, will design and build a High Vacuum Distillation (HVD) unit in a new 5 million gallon-per-year biodiesel facility on the Big Island of Hawai`i. The HVD system will enable the facility to process a wider range of agricultural feedstocks – and make higher quality fuel. The project will allow the use of new agricultural feedstocks to meet Hawaii’s need for transportation fuel.

HNU Energy, a Maui-based renewable energy developer and engineering firm, will install a 1 MWh lithium-ion battery at a high-solar neighborhood on Maui to smooth the short-term variability of solar and supply energy to the grid in the evening during peak demand. The project will demonstrate that battery storage technology can successfully manage high levels of solar energy on island grids, enabling the interconnection of additional renewable energy.

Gen-X Energy, a Maui-based energy development firm, will work with a Big Island agricultural operation to build an off‐grid water pumping system to meet farm irrigation needs. The system will be powered by a 100-kW wind turbine with a battery, inverter, and controls that regulate pump speed to track renewable energy output. The integration of the off-grid platform coupled with a turbine and pump will demonstrate that such solutions are efficient and cost-effective for agricultural operations in Hawaii and around the world.

This funding is in addition to $2.1 million that was awarded last year to Sopogy, Concentris Systems, Better Place, Satcon Technology Corporation, and Kuehnle AgroSystems to demonstrate pre-commercial clean energy systems in real-world environments. “The technologies supported in the first round of funding are headed to market funded by private investors and customers. This is the most important indication that HREDV’s public-private investment model can be successful,” said Dawn Lippert, HREDV Project Manager. “Our goal is to help transform Hawaii’s energy economy from importing dirty oil to exporting clean innovation.”

More information and detailed descriptions of the funded projects can be found on the HREDV website: www.hawaiirenewable.com.

For more information, contact:

Dawn Lippert, 808-237-5052, or hredv@pichtr.org

 

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One Response to Clean Energy Companies Win Funding to Build Innovative Projects in Hawaii

  1. Jim Nakama says:

    Thanks for the informative article post on highttechmaui.com. In particular, the HNU Energy battery storage project seems like a really good fit for the Maui Smart Grid project.

    Judging from the project description, it sounds very similar to a project that I read about on the New York Times:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/29/science/earth/batteries-on-a-wind-farm-help-control-power-output.html?src=tp

    The article does a good job of describing the problems faced by utilities as they incorporate unreliable energy sources into their grid.

    Projects like HNU’s will go a long way in helping MECO incorporate excess residential PV into their system.

    Traditionally, electric utilities like MECO managed their varying energy demand with a predictable, scheduled energy supply. As its energy supplies become less predictable, flexibility on the part of the utility and customer will facilitate a successful transition to this new reality.

    Best Regards,

    Jim