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Hawaii wind farm receives US$117m

The US Department of Energy (DoE) has offered a conditional commitment on a US$117 million loan guarantee to finance construction of a 30 MW wind energy project in Kahuku, Hawaii.

Kahuku Wind Power LLC will install 12, 2.5 MW wind turbines with a battery storage system for load stability. The loan guarantee is supported by funds from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act.

“This investment will create jobs and cut our dependence on oil, while promoting America’s leadership in the global race for the clean energy industries of tomorrow,” says Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

Construction of the Hawaiian wind project will create 200 jobs and, after completion, 6-10 full-time jobs, estimates the project sponsor, First Wind Holdings. The wind power output will be sold to Hawaiian Electric Company.

Located on the island of Oahu, the Kahuku wind farm will contribute to Hawaii’s Clean Energy Initiative goal of meeting 70% of the state’s energy needs with clean energy by 2030. Currently, each island relies on isolated electric grids that burn imported oil, to generate 90% of the state’s electricity. By harnessing wind power, the project is will supply electricity to 7700 homes and avoid emission of 160 million pounds of CO2.

The Kahuku wind farm project is in the final permitting stages. Construction will start after the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission approves the project and the DoE guaranteed funding is in place.

Battery storage

First Wind will incorporate a 15 MVA, 10 MWh battery storage system to enhance load stability. Developed by Xtreme Power of Texas, the battery system will store power from the wind turbines and provide 10 MW of capacity for one hour during periods of low wind speeds.

The project will install 2.5 MW wind turbines manufactured by Clipper Liberty in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They are the largest wind turbines made in North America.

“Given today’s difficult financing environment for these types of projects, the loan guarantee will be an important part in securing the necessary financing to build this next-generation wind energy project, which will create jobs, generate clean power for the people of Oahu, and help Hawaii gain greater energy independence,” says Paul Gaynor of First Wind.

“In addition, we believe Kahuku Wind will demonstrate the tremendous potential for battery storage solutions to maximise the efficiency of utility-scale wind projects by smoothing output and providing some energy at off-peak times.”

First Wind built and currently operates Hawaii’s largest wind energy facility, the 30 MW Kaheawa wind farm in Maui, which serves 9% of the island’s electricity needs with renewable energy.

As part of the Kaheawa project, First Wind implemented a Habitat Conservation Plan and the Kahuku project will also feature a plan so that endangered species can be protected near the project.

Loan programme supports 12 projects

DoE's Loan Programs Office manages the green energy loan portfolio and is authorised to issue loan guarantees under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 for eligible projects which avoid or reduce anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and employ new or significantly-improved technologies as compared to technologies in service in the United States at the time the guarantee is issued.

To date, DoE has conditionally offered or closed 12 loans or loan guarantees. According to estimates from the recipient companies, their projects will collectively create 50,000 jobs and lead to the capacity to produce 3 GW of clean power.

Other projects supported by DoE’s Loan Guarantee Program Office include:

  • US$535m to Solyndra to manufacture cylindrical solar photovoltaic panels
  • US$1.4 billion to BrightSource Energy to construct three utility-scale concentrated solar power plants
  • US$16m to Nordic Windpower USA to expand an assembly plant to produce its 1 MW wind turbine
  • US$43m to Beacon Power to construct its 20 MW flywheel energy storage plant
  • US$245m for an activated carbon manufacturing facility
  • US$8.33bn for construction of two new nuclear reactors
  • US$72m for a manufacturing facility to produce window technology
  • US$5.9bn to Ford Motor to transform factories to produce fuel efficient models
  • US$1.4bn to Nissan to produce electric cars and battery packs in Tennessee
  • US$465m to build the Tesla Model S sedan
  • US$529m to develop plug-in hybrids

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