KUIC solar array
Photo credit: Kauai Island Utility Cooperative Facebook image.

The Hawaiian island of Kauai has pristine beaches, lush palm trees, and lots of sunshine. And the island utility is turning that sunshine into a lot of solar power.

Rockwell: “In seven years from 2010 to 2017 we’ve gone from eight percent renewable and 92 percent oil, to 45 percent renewable and 55 percent oil today.”

Brad Rockwell with the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative says that on a sunny day, the island produces enough solar energy to meet all of its electricity demands.

Rockwell: “We have basically hit that saturation level where we cannot build any more large-scale solar projects because we’re already maxed out with the amount of solar we have during the midday.”

So the co-op is now investing in batteries. For example, one new solar facility has a battery system that stores solar power to use at night or on cloudy days.

Rockwell: “By continuing to build more and more of these projects we should be able to significantly offset even our night-time oil consumption.”

And, Rockwell says that will allow Kauai to reach 70 percent renewable energy by 2030 – a decade before the goal set by the state.

Reporting credit: Rosie Simon/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Bruce Lieberman, a long-time journalist, has covered climate change science, policy, and politics for nearly two decades. A newspaper reporter for 20 years, Bruce worked for The San Diego Union-Tribune...