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$3.4 Million In Renewable Energy Research Funding Announced

January 20, 2016, 9:09 AM HST (Updated January 20, 2016, 9:09 AM)
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Congressional Delegation: Senator Brian Schatz, Senator Mazie Hirono, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, and Congressman Mark Takai. U.S. Sentate photos.

Congressional Delegation: Senator Brian Schatz, Senator Mazie Hirono, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, and Congressman Mark Takai. U.S. Senate photos.

More than $3.4 million in Department of Energy funding was announced by the Hawai’i Congressional Delegation on Wednesday.

The funding will allow Hawaiian Electric to improve electric grid technology, with the end goal of facilitating more renewable energy generation.

Senator Mazie Hirono, who is a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, noted that the funding will build on the state’s record of being on the forefront of renewable energy research.

“This competitive funding will allow Hawaiian Electric Company to invest in and test technology that will allow more Hawai’i families to take advantage of rooftop solar systems and bring our state closer to reaching its goal of being powered by 100% renewable energy,” Senator Hirono said.

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Senator Brian Schatz said the project is exciting since it breaks new ground and is a fundamental shift in the design of the grids.

“We have all been frustrated by the technical challenges that have slowed down the amount of PV that can be put on the grid,” said Senator Schatz. “This innovation will allow more customers to send electricity back to the grid without destabilizing the system.  That’s a real positive for renewable energy.”

Hawaiian Electric received a $1 million Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium grant that was focused on Hawai’i, as well as $2.4 million as part of the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, and is a partner on a $3.8 million Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium project.

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“Hawai’i continues to lead the nation in renewable energy generation,” said Representative Tulsi Gabbard. “As the state continues to move toward its goal of generating 100 percent clean energy by 2045, this grant will help to begin long overdue work to modernize our grid, which is necessary as we work toward increasing our use of solar power, reducing our carbon emissions, strengthening our energy security, and improving our electrical infrastructure

The funding will be used towards research and demonstration projects that will improve Hawaiian Electric’s accommodation of rooftop solar panels on homes and business and greater use of large batteries and other systems to store power for when there is no sunshine.

“I am pleased to see that the Department of Energy and the Hawaiian Electric Company recognize that alternative forms of energy generation such as photovoltaics are what our county and our state must embrace to achieve a renewable energy future,” said Representative Mark Takai. “I myself have rooftop solar installed at my home as I strongly believe that we all must do our part to reduce our reliance on foreign oil.  I am excited to see HECO and its many local high tech development partners use this program to create and deploy technologies that will modernize and maintain a stable grid that can result in increased capacity for more distributed renewable energy generation.”

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