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Halawa lab has backup plan for solar-power system

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Diagnostic Laboratory Services and its contractors had to overcome a number of technical challenges to install a solar power generating system on the roof of the company’s new facility in Halawa.

The 339-kilowatt photovoltaic system will not only be one of Oahu’s largest when completed next month, it also will be one of the few that will include a backup petroleum-fired generator. It was designed by Hoku Solar to allow the PV system to operate both when the Hawaiian Electric Co. grid is energized, and in emergency conditions when the generator is running

Richard Okazaki, DLS president, said converting the old Panasonic warehouse to a combination of laboratory and office space meant a significant addition of electrical load to the site.

"We knew that a photovoltaic installation would reduce the net amount of additional electrical load at the facility and help us control our operating costs," Okazaki said. "The challenge was in ensuring that we had emergency power, so we knew we needed a generator system as well."

Close cooperation with Hawaiian Electric was required because of a number of "unique grid-related challenges, including a significant increase of the electric demand on the site," DLS said.

"We’re happy to support another renewable energy project coming online in a win-win for our customer and the PV vendor," said Scott Seu, HECO vice president for energy solutions.

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