Hawaiian Electric today said it increased its production of renewable energy last year, thanks to a full year of geothermal production and bump in private rooftop solar symptoms.
Hawaiian Electric’s consolidated renewable portfolio standard — which it said represents renewable energy used by customers as a percentage of total utility sales — in 2021 was at 38.4%, up from 34.5% in 2020. The renewables come from Oahu, Hawaii island and Maui County.
“Everyone owns a piece of this remarkable progress,” said Shelee Kimura, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric in a news release. “It marks a huge step forward in Hawaii’s transition away from reliance on imported fossil fuels and by continuing to work with our communities, government and other stakeholders we’re confident we can achieve our goal of reducing carbon emissions from power generation 70% by 2030.”
Over the past decade, the company said it has nearly quadrupled the amount of renewable energy on its electric grids, up from just under 10% in 2010. It also surpassed the required standard of 30% in 2020, with a consolidated renewable portfolio of 35%.
The standard is mandated by the state, which requires a specified percentage of electricity sold by utilities to come from renewable resources. Hawaii has set a standard of 40% by 2030 and 100% by 2045.
Hawaiian Electric said 4,956 private rooftop systems with 53 megawatts of capacity were added to the company’s five island grids last year, resulting in a higher RPS percentage. The increases were partially offset by about a 2% increase in electric sales.
Challenges lie ahead, however, as developers of some large, renewable projects slated for Oahu reconsider those plans. Hawaiian Electric is also under pressure to bring more renewable energy online to offset the state-mandated closure of AES Hawaii’s 180-MW coal-fired plant in Kapolei on Sept. 1 this year.
The renewable portfolio standard by island is as follows:
>> Oahu recorded 32.8% RPS, up from 30.5% in 2020. A full year of production at the Naa Pua Makani wind facility contributed to the nearly 7% increase in renewable output, according to Hawaiian Electric.
>> Maui County achieved 50.2% RPS, down slightly from 50.8% in 2020. Although renewable production was up across the county last year, the utility said electricity sales increased by 9% due to the strengthening of the tourism industry.
>> Hawaii island hit 60% RPS, up from 43.4% in 2020, thanks to Puna Geothermal Venture returning to service at partial capacity for a full year, according to Hawaiian Electric.