Sunday, May 26, 2024

The University of Hawaii is on its way to being entirely solar powered


If you needed another reason to spend your four college years in paradise (and by that, we mean Hawaii), the state’s university may have just given you one. The University of Hawaii (UH) has announced that its Maui College campus is slated to become one of the first in the United States to derive 100 percent of its energy from on-site solar photovoltaic systems (PV) coupled with battery storage. So whether you want to spend your college days surfing or knowing that your institution of higher learning is helping you to reduce your carbon footprint, the University of Hawaii may be looking like an increasingly appealing choice.

The result of a partnership with Johnson Controls and Pacific Current, this new venture will also help four other UH community college campuses on the island of O’ahu to “significantly reduce their fossil fuel consumption.” In fact, these four colleges will see their fossil fuel use decline by 98 percent, 97 percent, 74 percent, and 70 percent. Still, they won’t be quite as efficient as the main campus on Maui, whose new PV plus storage system will be able to eliminate the institution’s fossil fuel-based energy use altogether when it goes into effect in 2019.

While this new initiative is clearly a commendable one, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise. After all, back in 2015, Hawaii became the first state in the U.S. to commit to achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. Moreover, UH and the Hawaii Legislature have pledged that the university system will be at “net-zero” by the beginning of 2035, which means that the system will produce as much renewable energy as it consumes.

“With the implementation of phase two, these five UH campuses will have reduced fossil fuel energy consumption by ~14 GWh annually (45 percent) and added ~13 GWh renewable energy generation,” said UH vice president for community colleges John Morton. “We are proud to move the entire University of Hawaii System closer to its net-zero energy mandate, to celebrate UH Maui College’s achievement and to position the O’ahu community college campuses within reach of 100 percent renewable energy generation.”

Once energy conservation measures are implemented, the total on-site capacity will be 2.8 MW of solar PV and 13.2 MWh of battery distributed energy storage at UH Maui College, and 7.7 MW of solar PV and 28.6 MWh of battery distributed energy storage to the UH Community Colleges O’ahu campuses.

These eco-friendly projects are slated to be complete by the second quarter of 2019.

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