Business

Fewer Solar Permits Issued Statewide in 2019

July 22, 2019, 11:00 AM HST
* Updated July 23, 9:44 PM
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Despite the fact that the cost to install solar has dropped 65% since 2010, four of Hawai‘i’s counties showed an 12% drop in solar permits throughout the first half of the year. The President of Big Island-based ProVision Solar, Marco Mangelsdorf shared Kaua‘i was the only location that did not see a decrease. Battery storage product availability was limited last year but has since improved.

Big Island PV permits dropped from 513 in 2018 to 371 this year (a 28% decrease) compared to an 8% decrease on O‘ahu and 32% decrease in Maui County and a 75% increase in Kaua‘i.

Beth Tokioka, the spokesperson for the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative couldn’t identify a particular reason for the spike other than the fact that most permits in Kaua‘i were for expansions or battery installations to existing systems, rather than additional systems.

“Many of the permits issued have been for batteries only, and there was a lack of battery availability last year,” Tokioka said. “Some of it may be pent up demand for batteries spilling over from last year.”

On the Big Island, 60% of PV permits included batteries (primarily for the most popular brands: Tesla and LG) and 75% of PV permits on O‘ahu included batteries.

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“We need to exponentially increase battery storage behind the meter and on the utility side,” Mangelsdorf said. “The only way to get to 100% renewable energy by 2045 is to also be 100% resilient with more battery storage.”

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Thankfully Hawaiian Electric is working on an ambitious renewable energy resource procurement plan in which the company recently awarded six grid-scale solar and battery storage projects totaling 247 MW plus nearly a GWh of battery storage at prices less than 10c/kWh.

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