Project Spotlight: Solar Microgrid on the Protected Kona Coast of Hawaii

by Carleigh Graves

Ever wondered what it would be like to have your own personal resort on the beaches of Hawaii? Well, for one particular family, it's pretty great -- but it comes with some surprising challenges.

Located on the west coast of Hawaii's Big Island, the family's estate has a variety of amenities, from a swimming pool and tennis court to an ocean view. It's also completely green, producing nearly 100% of its energy from solar. The property sits on top of a lava flow, in the middle of a nature preserve, and directly on the beach. It is warm, secluded, and absolutely beautiful.

 

Bakken_Hale_Aerial_1.jpg

An aerial photo of the estate on Hawaii's protected Kona coast

And therein lies the some of the greatest challenges for making this home 100% green.

Designing for Harsh Conditions 

Sun, sea breeze, solitude, and nature. It sounds pretty idyllic, right? But let's put that in terms you should consider when installing a battery system: location, heat, maintenance, and environmental impact. For a lot of batteries out there, that's a death sentence. But it's where our saltwater batteries excel.

Location: Remote

Due to it’s location on Kiholo Bay, in the middle of a protected natural coast, the project had some unique challenges. First, the estate was completely off the grid, as the cost of extending the electrical grid to the home was prohibitively high. This meant that the system had to generate enough electricity to completely power the home while becoming as reliable as possible.

Temperature: Hot

Though the warm sun and tropical conditions certainly make for great sunbathing, it’s a challenge for batteries. A typical lead acid solution would struggle in Hawaii’s 25°C-30°C average temperatures and last only about half their specified lifetime. A better solution was needed.

Maintenance: None

A major consideration was the maintenance required for the battery system. The homeowners were accustomed to frequent maintenance and upkeep on their home due to salty ocean breezes. Exposed metal surfaces need to be wiped down regularly, and critical systems must be checked daily.

The last thing the homeowners wanted was a battery system that would add more maintenance to their home, or worse, fail due to harsh conditions.

Environmental Impact: None

The property owners are very environmentally conscious, which is why they dreamed of a 100% green-energy system for their home. They wanted as system that would both deliver green energy and be green itself. Their house had been hit by a hurricane several years prior, and the last thing they wanted was for a bunch of toxic batteries to flow out into the ocean. Their estate is also located in the middle of a pristine coast, and they wanted a battery system that wouldn’t endanger the local environment.

An Aquion Solution 

With all these considerations and constraints in mind, the property owners decided it was in their best interest to install not just an Aquion battery, but the largest system of Aquion batteries at that time: nearly 1 MWh.

Hawaii_1_MWh_1.jpgThe installation of Aquion M100 battery modules

Why so big? They needed a system that would be reliable and supply their home with energy for three days without sun, but they also wanted to avoid turning on their back-up generators. The generators were loud, expensive, and most importantly, bad for the environment. 

Unlike other batteries, Aquion batteries don’t have any critical, exposed metal surfaces, making them a great fit for the island location. They’re also completely sealed and require zero maintenance in all applications, which gave the family peace of mind. The 44 M100 battery modules were installed in a room underneath the 170 kW solar array. 

Perhaps the greatest contribution of these batteries is their environmental friendliness. They’re completely non-toxic, non-flammable, and environmentally benign, which made them a perfect solution for this project. The homeowners could rest easy knowing that their system would never hurt the environment, come hurricane or high water.

Energy, Clean and Simple 

Thanks to Aquion batteries, the generators rarely kick on, and the home has achieved nearly 100% green energy for the duration of operation. The property owners aren't just happy with their system, they're proud. And so are we. 

 

  See how our batteries are providing 100% renewable power on the Kona coast of Hawaii

Topics: Energy Storage, Solar, Microgrids, Deployments

Author
Written by
Carleigh Graves
Carleigh Graves was a former Senior Marketing Manager at Aquion.
 

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