In this week’s Solar News Roundup, learn about a new solar-plus-storage plant in Hawaii (the largest in the world), plus news from Tesla’s new Chinese Gigafactory.
World’s largest solar-plus-storage plant goes live in Hawaii
This past Tuesday, AES Corporation officially launched the world’s largest solar-plus-storage plant on the island of Kauai, in Hawaii. The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) and AES entered a power-purchase agreement at 11 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for the solar-plus-storage plant, known as the Lawai Solar and Energy Storage Project. Unlike a traditional solar energy plant, the AES project stores energy generated by the solar panels in a battery system in order to more effectively dispatch that energy to the grid during times of need.
For example, Hawaii generally has an oversupply of energy to the grid near midday when the sun is shining. But at night when solar panels aren’t producing energy, fossil fuel peaker plants need to be turned on to fulfill grid demand. This new plant allows solar energy to be used during evening times of demand, even when the sun isn’t shining. The power plant can supply 20 megawatts of energy for five hours at full capacity – equivalent to 100 megawatt-hours of stored energy.
The opening of the Lawai Project will allow the island of Kauai to rely less on expensive imported fossil fuels – AES expects to offset 3.7 million gallons of diesel per year by intelligently dispatching battery stored solar energy from the plant. And as an added bonus, the plant can black-start the electric grid in case of an outage.
Tesla breaks ground at Gigafactory 3 in China
Fresh off a big 2018 for their electric vehicle sales, Tesla and Elon Musk officially broke ground in China for the third installation of the Tesla Gigafactory. The factory will be located in Shanghai, and initial construction is slated to be completed this coming summer. Following initial construction, the Model 3 should begin production at the new factory.
According to a statement by the Shanghai government, the Gigafactory 3 is the largest foreign manufacturing investment in the city ever. They also mentioned and reiterated Tesla’s previously stated target of 250,000 cars per year, eventually increasing to 500,000. Musk stated that the factory will produce the affordable versions of both the Model 3 and the unrevealed Model Y crossover cars.