The Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) of the University of Hawaii’s School of Ocean & Earth Science & Technology, the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Navy Region Hawaii, and Hawaiian Electric Company have created plans to develop what could be at full build-out, the largest photovoltaic (PV) project in Hawaii at 2 to 3 MW.Honolulu, Hawaii – December 20, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] Planned for a 34.5 acre plot of Navy land in Ewa, the initial phase of the project will include a 200 kW PV generating system and the modeling and conceptual design of an integrated system combining PV, hydrogen production and hydrogen storage technologies, tied in with a fuel cell system. Additional PV capacity will be added as research findings support, and supplementary funding is obtained. The initial increment of the project will be financed through a US$2.5 million federal appropriation, secured through the efforts of Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka and Congressman Neil Abercrombie. President Bush recently signed the appropriation bill and the funding authorization. “This project lays the foundation for the development and demonstration of Renewable Energy sources that are so important for our military and for Hawaii’s future,” said Congressman Abercrombie. Current fuel cell technology uses fossil fuels, such as natural gas, to form hydrogen used to power fuel cells. Research at the new PV Park will demonstrate the use of a renewable technology, in this case photovoltaics, to make the hydrogen. Storing the hydrogen will also allow the fuel cell technology to provide power around the clock, effectively turning the intermittently available solar power into a 24-hour power source. Stored hydrogen also offers promise for transportation applications. “This technology provides a way to increase energy security and reliability for our military,” said Senator Akaka. Gary Jensen, head of the Greater Mid-Pacific branch of the Office of Naval Research also highlighted the project as a step in helping the Department of Defense meet federally mandated energy goals, which include increasing the use of Renewable Energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “Reducing Hawaii’s use of fossil fuels is going to take a variety of solutions and as Hawaii’s primary electricity provider, we have a responsibility to support the research and development that will help bring these alternate energy technologies to commercial reality,” said HECO President and CEO T. Michael May. While HNEI will own the facility, HECO will operate the grid-connected PV system and the Navy will be credited with the fuel saving benefits resulting from the system’s operation. HNEI and the Office of Naval Research will develop the model and conduct the research to evaluate the integrated PV-hydrogen production and storage-fuel cell system. An environmental assessment for the PV Park is currently planned for early 2003, with construction of the initial PV system to begin in mid-2004 and full operation by 2005.