Islands Large and Small Say Goodbye to Fossil Fuels

David Fessler By David Fessler
Energy and Infrastructure Strategist

Alternative Energy

On January 12, 1882, lights came on in London. The Holborn Viaduct power station fired up for the first time.

Things were happening fast in the energy world. The incandescent, carbon-filament lightbulb made its debut just three years earlier.

Now, in 2018, incandescent bulbs are quickly being replaced by LEDs. And coal-fired electricity is rapidly being replaced by solar and wind combined with energy storage.

In fact, in April of this year, Britain ran on coal-free electricity for almost 55 hours.

It hadn’t done that since before the Holborn Viaduct fired up 136 years ago…

And you can expect power generation without fossil fuels to become the norm rather than the exception.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The transition to a sustainable, fossil-fuel-free existence is probably going to take another 50 years or so.

But we must continue to reduce our carbon footprint. That’s part of the reason why solar power, wind power and energy storage are all on the rise.

The Large Island

Take Great Britain, for example. In 2016, it dropped its subsidies for renewable energy.

Most thought that spelled the end for solar and wind energy in England. But in 2017, the renewables sector increased by 8%.

This was an indication that renewables had finally “arrived” – at least in the U.K. Last year, the U.K. got more than half of its electricity from renewables.

Now battery storage is becoming an increasingly bigger part of the U.K.’s energy picture.

In 2016, deployed battery storage in the U.K. totaled just 24 megawatts (MW). By the end of this year, that number is expected to balloon to more than 200 MW.

By 2021, Britain’s installed battery storage could total 12 gigawatts (GW). That would be 60 times 2018’s number.

Renewable energy producers will be largely responsible. In fact, 25% of U.K. wind installations and 40% of U.K. solar installations could add battery storage by 2021.

The Small Island

Britain isn’t the only place bidding goodbye to fossil fuel generation. As a state, Hawaii has a goal of getting 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2045.

It’s already well on its way. The island of Kauai already gets 40% of its electricity from renewables.

And that number continues to grow.

Back in March 2017, the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) contracted with Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) to provide 52 megawatt-hours’ (MWh) worth of battery storage for the island’s 33,000 businesses and homes.

The storage was added to a 13 MW solar farm on the island. Tesla set up 272 Powerpacks next to 55,000 solar panels.

During the day, Kauai receives so much sunshine that KIUC can often meet 90% of daytime electric demand with its solar farms.

At night, Tesla’s storage system can power 4,500 homes. That’s about 18% of all the homes on the island. The solar-plus-storage facility displaces roughly 1.6 million gallons of diesel fuel per year.

Kauai’s system was so successful that KIUC partnered with AES Distributed Energy this past February for an even larger solar-plus-storage project on the island’s south shore.

This system will have 28 MW worth of solar panels. AES will provide 100 MWh worth of battery storage.

Kauai will get 11% of its energy from the project and will avoid the hassle of importing 3.7 million gallons of diesel fuel…

Even better, KIUC’s members will pay just $0.11 per kilowatt-hour under a long-term contract and KIUC will increase its renewable generation to nearly 60%.

Are you interested in learning more about energy storage? Let me know in the comments section.

Good investing,

Dave