Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hawaii Solar Technology Choice

Q: Will the consumer gain or lose?
A: Lose big if a proposal gets approval

The technology battle is between Concentrated Solar Panel (CSP) and Photo-voltaic (PV). Here are the facts:

Why should Hawaii pay more for electricity generated from CSP than it does from PV? Hawaii’s leaders have proposed that HECO pay CSP developers up to 60% more than it pays PV developers for the same power. Even a modest size CSP facility will cost Hawaii 10’s of millions of dollars more in tax credits and electricity purchases. CSP (also known as Solar Thermal) is the most expensive of all energy options, as shown in the figure below. Choosing an obvious and unnecessary waste of money.

PV wins the Solar Technology Battle: Government and industry analysts say that CSP (also known as “solar thermal” technology) is losing the solar energy cost battle and is doomed (1,2.) The project developers are cancelling numerous CSP projects or converting them to PV (3.)

Hawaii’s Experience with CSP is even worse
. Hawaii’s first CSP facility cost approximately $20 million dollars to build and has a capacity of 100 kW (4,5,6.) The cost to build that CSP facility is approximately $200/watt while PV is less than $7/watt. Actual electrical output from the facility has not been made public.

Outrageous cost!
HECO buys renewable energy produced by geothermal, wind, PV, and biomass local suppliers at 12 to 22 cents per KWh. With the proposed CSP rate, HECO will be forced to buy solar energy at 31.6 cents per KWh. Such discriminatory favoritism is unjustified and insulting to electric power customers. For reference, the average price of electricity sold to mainland households is 11 cents per KWh. HECO’s rate is approximately three (3) times higher.
Bottom Line: Hawaii should not subsidize an expensive and unproven CSP technology when proven and less expensive PV options readily exist.

Call to Action:
The Governor and the PUC are preparing to approve a “highway robbery” deal with Sopogy for a multi-million dollar CSP deployment at Kalaeloa on Oahu. This deployment must not be approved. Call the Governor and the PUC and ask them to step away from this very costly proposal.

Note: Sent to Governor, Lt. Governor, the Public Utilities Commission and all Hawaii Legislators on Sept. 13, 2011.