The Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), an organized research unit of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, conducts research of state and national importance to develop, test, evaluate, and analyze novel renewable energy technologies. HNEI researchers and collaborators describe their efforts towards providing innovative, efficient, and effective technologies in the renewable energy field.
Established in 1974, the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) is an organized research unit within the University of Hawaii at Manoa. HNEI researchers and collaborators work in a variety of fields within the renewable energy sector to provide research, testing, evaluation, and analysis of innovative, efficient, and effective real-world solutions to sustainable energy.
Hawai‘i is rich in various types of biomass resources that can be used as a renewable source of energy in the state. Follow HNEI’s bio-refinery processes from which biomass is converted into useful energy.
The net zero energy FROG structures serve as both classroom and research platform located on the UH Manoa campus. While used for high school and college coursework, building energy-use thermal comfort and environmental sensor research is conducted in these rooms.
HNEI’s GridSTART (Grid System Technologies Advanced Research Team) focuses on the efficient and effective integration of renewable energies into the power grid. GridSTART advances solutions and technologies for the Asia-Pacific region by analyzing, modeling, and field deployment and verification.
HNEI’s GridSTART utilizes a laboratory equipped with PV systems, inverters, and power grid simulation tools in addition to the electric grid in the field as a living laboratory to tackle renewable energy grid integration issues and provide solutions.
Activities at HNEI’s Hawaii Sustainable Energy Research Facility (HiSERF) are centered on electrochemical technologies to support the growing renewable energy transformation. Discover more about future needs as well as HNEI’s current research on hydrogen fuel cells and next generation batteries for electric vehicles and grid storage applications.
Housed at the Marine Corps Bay Hawai‘i (MCBH), the hydrogen “fast-fill” fueling station is an ongoing research effort of HNEI. The station allows for the application of sustainable transportation options by utilizing high-pressure hydrogen to power the vehicle’s electric motor using fuel cell conversion.
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) converts ocean temperature differentials into usable energy. With the goal of high efficiency, low cost renewable energy, HNEI and partner Makai Ocean Engineering pioneer processes for energy extraction.
HNEI’s GridSTART Power Monitoring Systems offers a high-tech, flexible research-to commercialization platform including such features as voltage and current measurement, numerous communications options, GPS-based timing, and powerful processing capabilities for real-time data analysis.
HNEI’s Hydrogen Storage & Purification Materials Laboratory conducts research towards the advancement of materials research and education for a sustainable future. This includes developing novel hydrogen storage and purification materials for use in automobile applications.
HNEI’s GridSTART Sky Imaging Systems is a flexible, robust, and inexpensive system that is designed to forecast solar power. The device is furnished with a 360° camera; irradiance, temperature, humidity sensors; an on-board computer; a micro controller; and a PV powered battery.
HNEI’s GridSTART is conducting a renewable energy integration study for Thailand in collaboration with Thai power system operator, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT). Renewable energy intermittency impacts and mitigation strategies are under evaluation with the Thai utility using advanced power system simulation tools.
For the past 15 years, HNEI has collaborated with the Naval Research Lab on the development of practical, lightweight fuel cell power systems for unmanned vehicles. This video provides an overview of some of the recent work performed as part of the collaboration.
HNEI supports the commercialization of wave energy as a worldwide renewable resource. The institute is responsible for data analysis, collection, and reporting of the research completed at the U.S. Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS), the only wave energy grid-connected test site in the U.S.
2016 WETS update: Wave energy converters tested at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS), featuring the Fred. Olsen Lifesaver device and the Northwest Energy Innovations Azura. Both devices are pre-commercial point absorbers, and were successfully demonstrated and evaluated at WETS.