The high cost of electricity in Hawai‘i, resulting from the geographic isolations of the islands’ electricity grids and widespread use of petroleum to generate electricity, has led to the rapid growth of renewable generation on all the islands. This isolation make Hawai‘i’s electricity grids particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of these intermittent renewable energy sources, but also an ideal test bed for solutions. HNEI’s primary activities in energy efficiency include research on high efficiency and net zero energy buildings; and building energy management systems and controls.
Grid System Analysis
The integration of variable renewable energy into a utility grid system is a key component of moving toward a more sustainable future. To support this effort, HNEI has produced a broad set of studies that evaluate and test the impacts of incorporation of solar and wind energy, the potential of storage options, the effect of stability and reliability on the grid, and the challenges of implementation.
Grid Technology: Development and Demonstration
HNEI is conducting research, development, and demonstration of new technologies to increase renewable energy integration onto the grid and assist in increasing controllability and grid stability. Efforts include a wide range of testing and demonstration projects for smart and micro grid systems, validation of control algorithms, use of a battery energy storage system, and developing solar forecasting methods.
Energy Efficiency in Buildings
Energy efficiency is the foundation for reaching Hawai‘i’s aggressive renewable goals to reduce fossil fuel usage and carbon emissions. HNEI’s energy efficiency objectives are to support the development and deployment of energy efficient buildings through research, testing, and validation of energy related technologies, education and training, and project collaboration with private and public sector partners. Three energy neutral classrooms were built and monitored for several years on O‘ahu and Kaua‘i. The performance of these buildings helps us understand optimum operation of mixed mode buildings. More recently, two net zero energy, mixed mode buildings were built on the UH Mānoa campus and currently serve as research platforms for multiple developing technologies.