Hawaii Plans Big Solar Power Arrays at Airports, Harbors

HONOLULU, Hawaii, January 23, 2008 (ENS) – Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle has unveiled a plan to develop large solar power arrays at 12 locations around the sunny state, highlighting what she calls “her administration’s commitment to developing renewable energy in Hawaii.”

Under the plan, the state Department of Transportation, DOT, Airports Division is soliciting proposals from private companies to develop photovoltaic systems that could generate as much as 34 megawatts of electricity at 11 DOT sites, as well as the Hawaii Foreign-Trade Zone in downtown Honolulu.

All 12 systems are scheduled to be completed and operational within the next 24 months.

The project originated when the DOT researched possible renewable energy sources for Kona International Airport on the Big Island in order to take advantage of the location’s year-round sunny weather to help reduce electricity costs.

The solar power project was then expanded to other DOT sites. Installation work is now scheduled at Honolulu International Airport and airports on all the other main islands; at Honolulu harbor and at Nawiliwili harbor on Kauai; and DOT Highway Division district offices on Oahu and Kauai.

One of the solar arrays is
planned for sunny Honolulu
International Airport. (Photo
courtesy SOEST)

“This is one of the largest, if not the largest, state government solar initiatives in the nation,” said Ted Liu, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

A 34-megawatt photovoltaic system will reduce Hawai‘i’s need for approximately 130,000 barrels of fuel oil per year and would generate enough power to supply about 9,000 homes per year.

The added power will be welcome as the island state is 92 percent dependent on fossil fuel, all of it imported.

“Our administration is committed to developing renewable sources of power to reduce our reliance on imported oil, increase our energy independence and stabilize energy costs,” said Governor Lingle.

“Constructing large solar power arrays at DOT sites and in downtown Honolulu capitalizes on one of Hawai‘i’s most abundant natural resources and produces energy without polluting the environment,” she said. “This project also shows that state government is leading by example in the critical areas of energy and the environment.”

The plan is based on a public-private partnership where private companies construct the photovoltaic systems and then enter into an agreement for the state to purchase all power produced for a minimum of 20 years.

This allows the state to avoid construction and operating costs while also establishing a stable, long-term power budget. There are also substantial benefits for the private sector.

“Any private company would be able to reduce project costs by taking advantage of state and federal energy tax credits not otherwise available to government agencies,” Liu said.

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