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Earth Power Technology

Tesla's New Solar Energy Station On Kauai Will Power Hawaii At Night (engadget.com) 142

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: The Kapaia project is a combination 13MW SolarCity solar farm and 53MWh Tesla Powerpack station on the island of Kauai. In partnership with the KIUC (Kauai Island Utility Cooperative) the project will store the sun's energy during the day and release it at night. The station (along with Kauai's other renewable resource solutions including wind and biomass) won't completely keep the island from using fossil fuels but it will temper the need. In addition to using Tesla's station to battle the island's incredibly high electric bills, it's also part of a long-term Hawaii-state plan to be completely powered by renewable energy sources by 2045. Kauai has its own goal of using 70 percent renewable energy by 2030. With this project the island is getting closer to that goal and can now produce 100 percent of the energy it needs during high usage mid days and low loads via renewables during a brief period of time. The island state doesn't have the benefit of a massive grid like the mainland to pull electricity from sources hundreds of miles away. Instead each island has to take care of its own energy solutions. According to Tesla and the KIUC, the 45 acre Kapaia project will reduce the use of fossil fuels by 1.6 million gallons a year. You can view Tesla's Powerpack and solar farm on Kauai here.
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Tesla's New Solar Energy Station On Kauai Will Power Hawaii At Night

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 08, 2017 @09:07PM (#54003645)

    Hawaii doesn't get enough sun!

    They should just burn dead dinosaurs like Good Americans.

    Sadly, they would rather be a foreign country. Notice how they faked Obama's birth certificate.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      There is a kernel of seriousness to this: the problem with Hawaiian solar is that there just isn't enough acreage on Kauai, Maui, Molokai and Oahu that you can pave over with solar collectors without it ruining the environmental esthetics. It's not Nevada, where there are large flat, dry areas that nobody cares about. The Big Island has the same geothermal potential as Iceland, but that possibility has already been howled down on the same grounds of vague territorial sacredness that is currently being used

      • There is a kernel of seriousness to this: the problem with Hawaiian solar is that there just isn't enough acreage on Kauai, Maui, Molokai and Oahu that you can pave over with solar collectors without it ruining the environmental esthetics

        They do not need 200GW of power for the less than one and a half million people on those islands - thus there is plenty of acreage without even getting past the urban fringe with solar. Presumably that will not be the only method of electricity generation in those islands

        • Everyone would like to replace the diesel generators with something carbon free, and high-priced island economies are good places to experiment with renewables. I'm assuming that over the next decade or so, all roofing materials will have photovoltaic collection included by default. If you need 'shaded roofing' for some spot that never sees the sun, you will have to special-order it.

          But if parts of Hawaii need baseload power over what their rooftops can provide, they might consider ocean thermal:
          https://en. [wikipedia.org]

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )

            Everyone would like to replace the diesel generators with something carbon free

            Not really everyone, that's inviting political bullshit such as another poster accused me of.
            Replacing it with something else that is locally available is a really good idea however, not just for the sake of reducing an already small carbon footprint. A couple of years ago it would have been hideously expensive to run those diesels merely due to being at the mercy of the world oil price.

            There are many options suited to the loca

    • Notice how they faked Obama's birth certificate.

      Apropos birth certificates - Obama isn't the only one who's been introuble, it seems, just look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    • Burn dinosaurs? Oh, you mean oil that's made from dinosaurs. Yeah, we all know dinosaurs trekked to dying places before they kicked off just like elephants in more modern times, Took me a minute (no coffee, yet). I get it now, Mr. Sinclair.

  • Not well thought out (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gatkinso ( 15975 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2017 @09:14PM (#54003697)

    When I worked at PMRF we would brown out the entire island when we kicked on some of the radars there during certain missile tests.

    I have a feeling that Queen 8 would eat Tesla's little batteries for lunch.

    • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

      That being true, the next stage of the project is to install some supercapacitors just for those sorts of inrush loads. Quite a lot of very big capacitors, sure - but is there any reason this couldn't be part of the arrangement?

      Also, what happened to your radars if/when the island's power failed?

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:23AM (#54004455) Journal
        Re 'Also, what happened to your radars if/when the island's power failed?"
        Japan takes advantage and expands it Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
      • by gatkinso ( 15975 )

        There were site generators, however they were not sufficient for live ops and additional capacity was drawn from the grid IIRC.

    • The summary is poorly written too, and misleadingb likely because certain sentences are copy-pasted from an article that uses a certain "trick".

      The summary repeatedly makes claims about "all their energy needs", which is false and misleading. The goals have to do with percentages of ELECTRICITY, not energy. Most energy usage isn't electricity; it's gas, diesel, heating oil, etc. If a power plant could provide 100% of a town's electricity, that would be about 25% of their energy. To replace gas and diesel,

  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2017 @09:19PM (#54003727)

    Or OTEC

    Geothermal is something they have massive resources for. They are living on volcanoes after all.

    On OTEC they have the location, it supplies more than just power and they are doing the research

    https://www.makai.com/ocean-th... [makai.com]

    • Only one island is still volcanic, the big island of Hawaii.
    • by Zemran ( 3101 )
      There are so many options. The deep sea currents between the islands etc. Why us solar tech to solve a problem that is not there with other tech?
      • Or you could pay a company that has already developed a proven an accountable system that converts solar energy into electricity to install their system.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Pacific Islands (including Hawaii) don't have fossil fuel supplies, so any power plants that use them require shipping them in on an ongoing basis.

    Solar/Wind/Sea-based/Satellite generation is far more expensive up front, but is the only way for these areas to have Electricity that is not dependent on shipping supplies in continually.

    As a result, this is the perfect case for such systems, and it's pretty easy for it to be cheaper in even the short to medium term.

    The people who are doing this are doing th

    • by hambone142 ( 2551854 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2017 @10:12PM (#54003979)

      I saw Kauai's power generation plant. It's located in Port Allen. They barge diesel to the island to power big motors to turn the generators (I think there are 3 or 4 of them). The plant sends power along the highway all the way to the North End (Princeville). It's quite simple but as you mention, pretty arcane.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I saw Kauai's power generation plant. It's located in Port Allen. They barge diesel to the island to power big motors to turn the generators (I think there are 3 or 4 of them). The plant sends power along the highway all the way to the North End (Princeville). It's quite simple but as you mention, pretty arcane.

        "arcane". I don't think this word means what you think it does.

        You probably meant "archaic".

    • by snsh ( 968808 )

      Caribbean islands too. The smaller islands run diesel generators, which is the most expensive way to generate power. Cars on those islands also travel at low speed and need limited range.

      Tesla should be able to sell a lot of cars, solar panels, and batteries there.

      • by Cramer ( 69040 )

        They could if they bothered to make simple, economical cars. Instead, Musk wants to make expensive, Unicorn inspired crap. (The key issue is the $10k worth of batteries a car needs.) The model 3, if they ever get around to making them, is a step in the right direction, but it's still seriously overpriced.

  • BUT, they still need the full complement of diesel generators for those times when the sun doesn't shine enough to keep the batteries charged.

    This island is totally isolated and they have depended on diesel generators for a long time. Solar is a great option for them because diesel is a really expensive way to produce electricity. Shipping large quantities of fuel to an island is expensive. Solar is a great way to offset this unusually high cost by burning less fuel and batteries let you offset some of

    • by ghoul ( 157158 )

      You pretend as if Diesel Storage does not cost money. During a storm ships with Diesel can not get through either hence diesel storage needs to be there to cover not just the days of the storm at 100% but also any shipping delays caused due to a storm . Spending the money on batteries or spending it on Diesel tank farms you are spending it either way. Solar is ideal for Islands which get enough sun. They can combine with Geothermal , tide and wind along with batteries. Wind blows at night too and tides chan

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        Most advance nations have worked out local weather patterns and build diesel storage to cover all expected events.
        Ship needs repairs, second ship needs unexpected repairs, a storm slows the second ship.
        Diesel tank farms work well and are sized to a nations needs.
        • by ghoul ( 157158 )

          Yes they have estimated it well and in fact added margin of safeties so Islands never run out of Diesel. The question is - Is the cost of this well estimated smoothly running system less than or more than a bank of batteries with similar backup?
          Islands may have gone for Diesel because good Solar and Battery tech did not exist. And due to sunk costs may want to stay with Diesel generation and backup.
          But with newer solar tech if Solar and batteries are close than the benefit of less smoke makes sense to go wi

      • You pretend as if Diesel Storage does not cost money.

        Really? It does? Say it isn't so (sarc off)

        Of course it does. It also costs money to keep those diesel generators in working order, even when they are not actually being used....

        But my point here is, they have to keep them and maintain them regardless of the solar panels and batteries. Why? Because there is no way then can afford to put in enough batteries (with solar panels to charge them) to guarantee the lights stay on

        • by ghoul ( 157158 )

          I would like to see some hard numbers which show Diesel storage for 5-6 days plus employee costs to physically move the barrels to the generators is less than the cost of batteries which charge and discharge automatically

          • Why? Do you think that situation applies in this case? I don't. We are talking about an island with 65,000 people and tourists on it year round. A couple of barrels of diesel wouldn't keep the generators running very long with the kind of demand I'm sure they have..

            Likely diesel is handled the same was as gasoline and pumped ashore. I'm not sure they have an underwater pipeline or if it comes from ships. Either way, I'm sure it's a LOT more expensive than the already exurbanite prices on the main island.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Oh no, so they have to leave the existing infrastructure in place and use it way less. That sounds horrible, and is definitely a reason to just continue shipping and burning diesel 24/7/365.

      Are you serious with this?

      • Maybe you are misreading what I said....

        I'm all for this, just don't start thinking they can ditch the diesel plant. You see, the crazy folks who see this and don't think might be ready to believe that "Hey, they can just throw away those diesel plants now and go 100% solar, this PROOVES it!" when it doesn't. I'm just saying they shouldn't toss the diesel plants into the ocean, they will eventually need them to keep the lights on.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Gravis Zero ( 934156 )

      BUT, they still need the full complement of diesel generators for those times when the sun doesn't shine enough to keep the batteries charged.

      Excuse me but are we talking about the same Hawaii?

      • Yea, you've never heard of a hurricane going by the place in the middle of the ocean? It can mean DAYS of clouds and rain...

        • In which case they turn on the diesel generators they used to use 365 days a year.

          Only using those generators for 5 to 10 days out of the year under extreme circumstances is an incredible improvement.

          • I don't disagree.. Please see my original post....

            My point is, you need to keep them around and maintained. Which is my basic point with most renewables.. They are great and do allow us to burn less fossil fuels, but we still need the old capacity sitting there ready to take up the slack.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @02:55AM (#54004773)

      BUT, they still need the full complement of diesel generators for those times when the sun doesn't shine enough to keep the batteries charged.

      I'm not sure that you've got much of a grasp on the idea of what a tropical island is. Even 70% cloud cover during a day of tropical sunlight would probably deliver far more power than the same panels where you are. Plus, monocultures suck - even those diesel generators currently used have other diesel generators to fall back on - maybe it's better for you if you think of the solar as the backup for the diesel since that is vunerable to anything that holds up fuel shipping to the islands no matter how many backups it has.

      Of course, if you don't mind going back to the stone age from time to time

      A bit of Freudian slip there I think - opposing the advance of technology just because "The Party" says Komrades like you should strive against the dread spirit of innovation.
      It's really funny, in the 1970s conservatives would have been right behind this sort of thing as a shining example of American greatness - but now you just want to drag everything down only because it looks like it could match the policy of another party.
      It's shit like that which is on the trajectory to the stone age.

      • The "Average" hours of sunshine on a tropical island are indeed great for morning exposures, which is why this idea makes sense for them... But tell me, dear sir, what happens when a tropical storm happens though? Depending on the timing, such a storm could mean 2 full days of rain, possibly more. Surely you don't think they can afford 3 days worth of batteries and the extra capacity to charge them. It will be very expensive. A better solution is to not be dependent on any single unreliable source and k
        • Well, SolarCity / Tesla has done a project like this on the American Samoa island of Ta'o that does have 3 days worth of battery, which recharges in 7 hours. And, they can still turn on the diesel generators should they need to.

          It's not like they are taking a wrecking ball to the existing infrastructure after flipping the switch on this solar install. It turns out that electrical engineers that design and build grid systems think about this shit and plan for it.

          • Fine, as long as everybody understands this. However I think there are some who try to dump the fossil fueled plants when they see stuff like this, and THAT was what I was trying to prevent.

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )

          But tell me, dear sir, what happens when a tropical storm happens though?

          Go back to my post and read sentence number three for your answer.

      • The windward side which is usually desert-like doesn't have cloud cover
    • Batteries are expensive, but there are far cheaper ways to store power, and volcanic islands are well positioned to use pumped water gravitational storage, which I believe is one of the cheapest and most reliable. Not to mention that new German(?) technology being developed - undersea concrete spheres that can store energy by pumping out the water.

  • Just wondering... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2017 @09:34PM (#54003791)

    Why doesn't Hawaii use geothermal?

  • 2008 data, from the web, total population is 65,000 people.
  • Rather than using expensive li-ion batteries that will need to be replaced, just build more water towers - or artificial reservoirs if you have plenty of water. Take the excess energy generated and pump the water up, then release it through a turbine when your solar farm lacks sun and your wind farm lacks wind.

    There are water towers and hydroelectric dams in use today that were built more than a century ago, so for an up-front cost you can have infrastructure that will last a very long time. If you're a f

    • Lol. 52 megawatt-hours. It's not 'water towers'.
      In order to store 52 megawatt-hours, you need to lift 52 million kilos 360 meters.
      Or 52000 tons, or 20 olympic swimming pools.
      Ten times that if you want 'only' 36m tall towers.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        You are nearly there grasshopper but you do not understand yet that such things have already been done many times despite those large numbers:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumped-storage_hydroelectricity
        Imagine 100 million tonnes of water in pump storage (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludington_Pumped_Storage_Power_Plant) instead of those 52 thousand tonnes.
        Those 52 thousand tonnes don't sound so difficult in comparison now do they?
        • Pumped storage is great, but requires specific geological conditions to make it worth building. It also takes up a lot of space. I have no idea if Hawaii is suitable for pumped storage - it may well be - but there are often environmental issues (as it destroys a lot of land), and construction costs tend to be very large.

          • Hawaii is rather short on land, so the less of it they use or make unsuitable for other uses the better (I imagine a shload of 50+ meter water towers sticking up everywhere probably don't do much for tourists).

            Could they have wired up pumps to use the excess generation for pumped storage? Probably. But there are other factors that go into the land use permitting processes.

            • by dbIII ( 701233 )
              Maybe, but the first wikipedia page I linked to had the following:
              "A 300 MW seawater-based project has recently been proposed on Lanai, Hawaii"
              If the baseline is sea level that increases the options of where it can be sited.
              • by dbIII ( 701233 )

                I imagine a shload of 50+ meter water towers sticking up everywhere probably don't do much for tourists

                I can't imagine why anyone would do that when you have mountains.

        • by Cramer ( 69040 )

          Except for the whole using water towers BS. That'll be even more impossible to get past locals than converting a large portion of a mountain top into a lake. Hell, they had a fit over a telescope that would've used a few acres; such a thing will need a few HUNDRED acres.

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            Here's the thing - if your baseline is sea level and you have some very big mountains you do not need to put it on the mountain top, plenty of desolate spots some distance up will do the job.
            Hundreds of acres? Yes. I suggest you look at a map to enlighten yourself that the place we are talking about is not the middle of Manhattan so there is an acre or two of unfarmable land spare.
    • > There are hydroelectric dams in use today that were built more than a century ago

      Yes, 100 years ago they built hydroelectric dams the places where the geography was such that it makes sense to do so. As you said, we still get some benefit from that. Hoover dam generates 3.5 Twh/year (and flooded 250 square miles).

      The good spots are already is use, by and large. There are actually *fewer* good spots now than 100 years ago. The Banqiao hydroelectric dam killed hundreds of thousands of people. It flo

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )

        The good spots are already is use, by and large. There are actually *fewer* good spots now than 100 years ago.

        Thanks to very low loss methods of electricity transmission such as HVDC being used worldwide I'd say there are a lot more good spots. Put a big enough dam in Alaska and it's likely to be economically viable to use the electricity generated there in Seattle. There are links operating as long as 2,375 km (1,476 mi) so it would be possible to put a link in with today's technology.

        • It's not only possible, long-range transmission via HVDC already exists in Washington, Oregon, and California; and has for decades.

          Seattle already gets the vast majority of it's energy from hydroelectric, without spending untold amounts of effort on non-engineering issues like the politics of trying to transmit energy across another sovereign nation. Seattle and Portland both benefit from the 11 or so hydroelectric dams on the Columbia (one of which [wikipedia.org] is the largest electrical generating station in the Unite

      • A hydro pumped storage plant is not the same thing as a hydro dam. Facepalm. Hence you have plenty of places where you could build some.

        • > A hydro pumped storage plant is not the same thing as a hydro dam. Facepalm.

          Actually that's *exactly* what it is, unless you're planning on powering one building, in low-power mode, for a few hours. (That you can do with a tower - power the emergency lights in a work building overnight when nobody is there). You aren't going to build a trillion-gallon tower, my friend, even if you're Trump and you build everything HUGE.

          For the US we'd need roughly 1,000 of them the size of Lake Mead (250 square miles)

          • Actually that's *exactly* what it is,
            No it is not.
            I suggest to google for some pictures, you will find plenty that don't look like the typical Hoover dam.

            Don't know how you come to your numbers, the USA only need to increase pumped storage by a factor of 4 what they already have. That is for all currently thinkable renewable scenarios enough.

            E.g. look at those pictures: https://www.meine-stadtwerke-b... [meine-stad...-bochum.de]
            http://www.energy-mag.com/neua... [energy-mag.com]
            http://kraftwerke.vattenfall.d... [vattenfall.de]

            Those are all pumped storage plants wit

            • Might I suggest you read the stories rather than just look at the pictures. One of the stories you linked to points out that a "fact" you stated is wrong by orders of magnitude.

              In the stories you linked to, you'll also find the capacities of those reservoirs which consist of a dam all the way around - enough to charge 20 Teslas. Germany has 80 million people. Do you think they're going to build a million or so such reservoirs?

              • Might I suggest you read the stories rather than just look at the pictures
                Nope, the point of the stories are precisely the pictures ... you seem not to get that. The stories I linked are irrelevant for that.
                My point is: a typical pumped storage does not look like a Hoover dam.
                There are plenty of places where you can set up pumped storages. In germany we still have about 30 places free to build storages like I linked.

                I only showed you the pictures so you get rid of your impression that a pumped storage is ba

                • >> Might I suggest you read the stories rather than just look at the pictures
                  > Nope, the point of the stories are precisely the pictures

                  Well, if you don't care to read even the sources you cite, I don't suppose I can help you. Intentional ignorance is permanent ignorance. They do, however, say that you're wrong by orders of magnitude.

                  >> Enough to charge 20 Teslas
                  > how you come to the idiotic idea that one of the reservoirs would only charge 5 Teslas is beyond me.

                  You're not lying, you *r

                  • We are not talking about CAPACITY.

                    We are talking about weather or not you need a Hoover Dam like plant design. And we are talking about the question if you need to flood one of an American state. We are talking about the question if the USA is running out of geographical options to build pumped storage. All your ideas about those questions: are wrong.

                    Your Tesla example makes no sense. Pumped storage is used for "load balancing", not to store huge amounts of energy to charge Teslas, later. You would charge t

                    • We may be talking about two different things. Obviously you can pump water into a paper cup, or a swimming pool or whatever. Let's define exactly what we're discussing.

                      > We are not talking about CAPACITY.
                      > We are talking about weather or not you need a Hoover Dam like plant design.

                      Well I said if you want to power a building, you can use any of many designs. If you want to power cities, I said, you're looking at basically a hydroelectric dam type of design. So yes what I said is all about capacity -

                    • by iamacat ( 583406 )

                      Just use coal for these 2-3 days, it's fine. We need to reduce CO2 emissions in a big picture, occasional exceptions do not matter much.

                    • That is why no one is planning to go for solar only :D
                      Your cloudy weather systems are perfect for wind power :D

                      Anyway, the core of the discussion was: a pumped storage plant looks completely different than a "huge dam". And they work different. Hence, you can have much smaller pumped storage plants than you think. Hint: the hight difference is the key, not the size of the water surface.

                      Anyway, as long as renewables do not top base load demand, you have statistically not much energy left to store anyway. Bas

          • by Cramer ( 69040 )

            On a side note, with that much surface area, you'll be losing A LOT of water to evaporation! (and conversely collecting a lot from rain)

      • These are examples of base load hydroelectric installations.
        If all you need is to store tonight's electricity needs it could be done with a tiny fraction of the Hoover dam.
  • For large-capacity battery storage that does not need to move, high-temperature batteries (sodium-sulfur, ZEBRA, etc.) are cheap and their disadvantages (weight, insulation) are less relevant.
  • Nah, according to the text of the article it's powering neither the State of Hawaii nor the Island of Hawaii but provide some of the power to Kauai which will reduce its use of oil.

  • The Chinese are already experimenting with giant buildings filled with Lithium-Ion batteries.

    When the fire starts I suspect the chemicals released into the air will far exceed the environmental benefits gained. But Elon will continue to the person who has fleeced more money out of governments in the history of mankind, so let's keep worshiping him.

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