College campuses are often at the vanguard of new technology and scientific discovery. A campus on the Hawaiian island of Maui is taking a bold step in the field of renewables and energy storage.
In March, the University of Hawaii (UH) announced that its Maui College will become one of the first campuses in the nation to meet 100 percent of its energy needs with on-site solar generation coupled with battery storage.
The installations will have a capacity of 2.8 megawatts (MW) of solar generation and 13.2 megawatt-hours (MWh) of distributed energy storage on the campus. They were preceded by various energy efficiency measures that furthered the campus' readiness for a clean energy system. When the project is fully operational in 2019, the campus will be able to sever its reliance on fossil fuel generation.
The project is just a piece of a much bigger effort by the state and the university. In 2015, Hawaii became the first state in the country to make a commitment to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. At the same time, UH established a system-wide goal to be net-zero by Jan. 1, 2035.
Five other community college campuses in the UH system will be following in the footsteps of Maui College. Through the combination of solar shade canopies, distributed energy storage and energy efficiency measures, Leeward Community College, Honolulu Community College, Kapiolani Community College and Windward Community College will reduce their use of fossil fuel for energy by 98 percent, 97 percent, 74 percent and 70 percent, respectively.
The efficiency measures and solar arrays will reportedly save the UH system around $79 million. They will also benefit students and faculty in the form of curriculum, an internship program and workshops that will be offered concurrently with the new technology.