Solar thermal systems (including solar water heaters) use the sun’s energy to heat water for residential use (up to 160°F); industrial use, including air conditioning (170-350°F); or electricity generation (350-2000°F). Tens of thousands of solar water heaters are in use in Hawaii. There is one solar thermal electricity production facility at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) in Kona, Hawaii.
Photovoltaic systems do not have the moving parts or steam production found in most other electricity generation systems. Instead, the sunlight shines on the solar cell and causes an electric current to be generated directly. Thousands of photovoltaic systems are in use in Hawaii. Some generate power for use on-site (on residential, commercial, and other buildings); other (larger) systems generate power that is provided directly to electric utilities.
|Percentage of electricity
generated by solar, 2015
|8%||Nationwide rank of cumulative
installed PV capacity per capita,
of PV array3
|Levelized cost of PV, Hawaii utility scale4||~13‐14.5¢ /
|Installed cost, U.S.,
|$3.29 / W||Installed cost, U.S.,
|$1.80 / W|
|Statewide 2014 construction
expenditures attributed to
|7.4%||Acres per megawatt
|3.3 – 7.2
|1 Source: 2007 -2013 Annual RPS Reports to the Hawaii PUC, http://puc.hawaii.gov/reports/energy-reports/.
2 Gideon Weissman, Rob Sargent, “Lighting the Way: The Top States that Helped Drive America’s Solar Energy Boom in 2014”, Frontier Group, Environment America Research and Policy Center, September 2015, page 14.
3 Module output ranges from about 11 to 19 watts per square foot. Sanchez, Justine; “PV Module Selection.” In Home Power issue #163, October/November 2014.
4 Based on latest PPA approved projects; reference Docket Numbers 2014-0356, 2014-0357, 2014-0359, 2014-0354.
5 Represents median national price. ”Tracking the Sun VII: An Historical Summary of the Installed Price of Photovoltaics in the United States from 1998 to 2013;” Galen Barbose, Samantha Weaver, and Naim Darghouth; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; September 2014.
6 Represents median national price. Ibid.
7 DBEDT, March 2014.
8 Maunalani, 0.3 MW, 1.5 acres; La Ola, 1.5 MW, 10 acres; Hoku/Forest City, 1.2 MW, 4 acres; Kapaa, 1.21 MW, 5 acres; Port Allen, 6 MW, 20 acres; Kalaeloa SunPower, 5 MW, 36 acres; Kaleloa Scatec Solar project, 5 MW, 20 acres; Kalaeloa Home Lands Solar, 5 MW, 29 acres.
For additional information:
- Hawaii State Energy Office Publications (Solar tab)
- Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy – Solar
- Hawaiian Electric Company
Electricity provider for 95% of Hawaii’s population, serving all islands except Kauai. The Competitive Bidding for News Generation page has information on current and upcoming renewable energy purchases and solicitations.
- Kauai Island Utility Cooperative
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Information and analysis of renewable energy technologies, policies, and costs. Includes the Photographic Information eXchange – photographs of renewable energy projects, searchable by location and technology.
- U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
- Renewable EnerGIS Map
- HECO Locational Value Map for Oahu
- HECO Locational Value Map for Maui, Lanai, Molokai (PDF)
- HECO Locational Value Map for Hawaii Island (PDF)
For information and data on renewable energy and energy efficiency in Hawaii, download Hawaii Energy Facts & Figures, May 2016 Edition.
Please note that we do not necessarily verify, endorse or agree with statements or opinions presented on the listed sites. Links are provided to sites that appeared to provide information, present additional perspectives, or lead to further discussion on this or related topics.