Hawaii has enormous solar potential, but renewable energy producers have long faced a quandary about what to do during the many hours when there is little or no sun.

That’s what makes a just-announced agreement between a solar company, a large-scale battery system from a company known for elegant electric cars, and an island energy cooperative so interesting.

The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative said in a statement on Tuesday that the deal on a project that will provide energy generated by the sun whenever it is needed on the island — and not just when the sun is shining.

The energy cooperative on Kauai oversaw the massive Anahola solar project.
The energy cooperative on Kauai oversaw the massive Anahola solar project as part of its aggressive push toward renewable energy sources. Utility-scale battery storage may be the next frontier. Kauai Island Utility Cooperative

The company SolarCity chose Tesla Energy to provide a “first-of-its-kind solar array and energy storage system” on Kauai, according to the statement from the co-op.

Last year Tesla entered the market for renewable energy storage for homes and businesses.

The Kauai project plans to use a Tesla Powerpack lithium-ion battery storage system that, along with the array, are to be located on 50 acres of land owned by Grove Farm Company, near the co-op’s Kapaia power station, according to the statement.

Basically, the plan involves storing solar energy during peak production hours and distributing it to customers, as needed.

The co-op says the various players hope to begin construction of the project by April, with an eye toward completing it by the end of the year, but they need the approval of the Public Utilities Commission before they can get started.

The project, if it comes to fruition, could allow Kauai to replace power from diesel generators with solar energy, reducing the county’s reliance on fossil fuels, as well as its greenhouse gas emissions.

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