NELHA to Use Solar PV System for Science Tests

September 11, 2002 by Jeff Shepard

The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA, Kailua-Kona, HI) is negotiating with PowerLight Corp. (Berkeley, CA) to install a $8.0 million solar photovoltaic (PV) system at NELHA's facility near Kona International Airport to pump ocean water for use in its science experiments and commercial ventures. The laboratory estimates that it could save $3.5 million in operating costs over the next 25 years through the use of solar power.

PowerLight wants to design, build and maintain the system that would generate 1,100kWh of power. PV tiles on the laboratory roof would generate 50kWh, while a power shade in the parking lot would account for 120kWh. The major output would come from seven acres of sun-tracking panels that would generate 900kWh to pump seawater. The 350-hectare facility pumps cold ocean water from as deep as 1km, for use by tenants in aqua-culture and ocean thermal energy conversion.