As a result of technological advances coupled with the high cost of electricity in Hawaii and generous federal and state incentives, deployment is growing rapidly across Hawaii. Specific HNEI activities include:
HNEI is conducting high-fidelity resource assessments and testing commercial and emerging solar technologies. The objectives are to characterize real-world performance of (Photovoltaic) PV technologies and systems in differing environments.
These data will be publically available to inform consumers and ongoing grid stability studies. HNEI has partnered with industry, the local utility, and other University of Hawaii (UH) campuses to conduct this work.
Emerging ocean energy technologies have the potential to contribute significantly to Hawaii’s and the nation’s future energy mix. HNEI facilitates the development and deployment of wave energy and Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) technologies.
HNEI supports the Navy's development of the nation’s first grid connected wave energy test site (WETS) at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, to conduct independent analysis for wave energy conversion device systems performance, and associated environmental monitoring.
The Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) has a long history of research and development in ocean energy and resources technology, primarily in wave energy and in Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC).
HNEI supports wave energy conversion (WEC) technology assessments at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) located off Marine Corps Base Hawaii. This is the first grid-connected wave energy test site in the US. It consists of three test berths, at depths of 30, 60, and 80m, capable of testing WEC devices up to 1MW peak power production. Direct operations and maintenance support will be provided to tenant companies, competitively selected by US DOE and NAVFAC. HNEI conducts power performance and durability analysis of devices, as well as environmental monitoring (including acoustic, EMF, ecological, and sediment transport). Additionally HNEI supports University of Hawaii and other projects in device and array modeling, wave measurement and wave forecasting.
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)
HNEI conducts OTEC thermal gradient resource assessments, outflow plume modeling, and power plant demonstration studies of OTEC power plants for both US Navy and commercial applications. HNEI is supporting Makai Ocean Engineering in developing cost-effective heat exchanger designs and long-term corrosion testing of the aluminum materials at an OTEC demonstration facility, located at the Natural Energy Laboratory Hawaii Authority, on Hawaii Island. A 100 kW turbine generator made the facility into the first grid-connected, closed-cycle OTEC experimental plant in the United States.
HNEI is addressing issues associated with high penetration of intermittent wind on the electrical grid, (see Grid Integration).
Additionally, HNEI has deployed five small-scale (1 kW) vertical-axis wind turbines that are being monitored to evaluate performance for distributed applications (see Energy Efficiency).