Setting the Smart Solar Standard: Collaborations Between Hawaiian Electric and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Anderson Hoke, Julieta Giraldez Miner, Bryan Palmintier, Martha Symko-Davies, Earle Ifuku, Marc Asano, Reid Ueda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus Citations


Driving through many neighborhoods of Hawai'i, it is hard to miss the nearly ubiquitous rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that have popped up during the past eight years or so. Relatively high electricity costs associated with island grids, coupled with various incentives, have made it cost-effective to install solar over the last eight years, as evidenced by the PV-deployment chart in Figure 1. On the most populous island, O'ahu, the PV nameplate acgenerating capacity of 502 MW totals nearly half of the annual peak load for the entire island, which is 1.1 GW. Of that 502 MW of PVs, 54% is from private rooftop solar-nearly 50,000 residences or roughly one of every three single family homes. But Hawaiian Electric, the local utility, has no way to monitor or control the PV generation, even for most nonresidential systems. This means that on sunny days, up to approximately half of the PV generation is outside of the utility's control. This poses many challenges for utility planners and operators-challenges that Hawaiian Electric has been working diligently to address, along with various partners, notably the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and its Energy System's Integration Facility (ESIF). This article describes how Hawaiian Electric has worked with engineers in NREL's Power Systems Engineering Center to improve the way its grid operates with very high levels of distributed PVs, largely by changing the way the PV inverters are operated.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number8495081
Pages (from-to)18-29
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Power and Energy Magazine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2003-2012 IEEE.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5D00-70987


  • distributed generation
  • inverters
  • photovoltaic systems
  • power hardware-in-the-loop
  • quasti-static time-series simulation


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