Navy Completes Solar Energy Project in Hawaii

The Hawaiian Islands’ abundant sunshine but heavy reliance on imported fuels for energy puts it in a particularly good position to take advantage of solar energy. This week marked the completion of a 309 kW solar array at a US Naval facility, the largest federal deployment of solar energy on the islands.

Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Hawaii (NAVFAC Hawaii) and PowerLight Corporation recently held a solar dedication ceremony to celebrate the installation of the largest federal photovoltaic array in Hawaii. The array covers 31,000 square feet of roof space, and incorporates 1,545 solar panels made by Sharp Corporation. During the daytime, this solar system generates energy equivalent to that normally used to power over 300 homes. “The deployment of solar power at NAVFAC Hawaii demonstrates the Navy’s commitment to using energy management practices that reduce operational costs and protect the environment,” said Captain Richard D. Roth, commanding officer, NAVFAC Hawaii. “Using clean generation is very consistent with the Navy’s ongoing efforts to leverage superior operational expertise and technologies.” The array’s solar power will be added to the Navy’s electrical grid at Pearl Harbor and provide additional peak shaving power during the busiest part of the work day. Not only will it reduce the demand on Hawaiian Electric Company’s power grid, it will improve air quality by avoiding thousands of tons of polluting nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, the solar power is expected to save the Navy $40K per year, at current Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) rates. “Installing photovoltaics at governmental facilities is a sound, sensible way for us to use distributed energy resources to meet our renewable energy goals as well as reduce operating costs,” said Captain Roth. “In addition, deploying these technologies assures our energy independence and national security.” Pearl Harbor’s solar power system began as a HECO initiative and joint venture with the Navy. Originally, HECO offered to finance and build a photovoltaic array on Navy land, which they would lease. Over time, the project was adjusted and what began as a 100 kW photovoltaic system in a large-scale energy park to be located in Pearl Harbor’s West Loch area, evolved into a 309 kW system placed onto the roof of Ford Island’s Building 54. “Solar power proved to be a wonderful energy solution,” said Kevin Saito, energy manager, NAVFAC Hawaii. “By leveraging Hawaii’s abundant sunshine, this photovoltaic system combines the environmental benefits of solar with the ability to provide onsite power. This project provides a more, cost-stable source of electricity, mitigating the sharp increase in fuel prices with which we are so familiar.” Funding for this project was obtained through the outstanding efforts of the State of Hawaii’s Congressional Delegation. The designated location for the solar array, a historic, pre-World War II aircraft hanger on Ford Island, Building 54, received endorsements from Navy Region Hawaii’s Historic Preservation (HP) architect and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). It was chosen for its suitable roof structure and layout for the array. In late September, the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), partnering with NAVFAC Hawaii, installed their monitoring equipment to collect data, and analyze the effectiveness of the solar array.
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