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University of Hawaii Maui campus developing solar, storage system

The University of Hawaii announced March 19 that its Maui campus will soon supply 100% of its energy from an on-site solar installation and battery storage system.

In addition to providing the Maui campus with 100% renewable energy, solar and storage systems are also slated for development on four UH community college campuses on Oahu, where they are expected to reduce fossil fuel consumption for power generation: at Leeward Community College by 98%, at Honolulu Community College by 97%, at Kapi'olani Community College by 74% and at Windward Community College by 70%.

The solar project consists of photovoltaic shade canopies, distributed energy storage and energy efficiency measures expected to save more than $79 million in energy costs over 20 years, according to a news release. The project will be owned by Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. subsidiary Pacific Current LLC and developed by Johnson Controls International plc, which was awarded the energy performance contracts in 2010. The energy and infrastructure improvements at the five campuses are scheduled for completion by the second quarter of 2019.

The project will bring total on-site capacity to 2.8 MW of solar PV and 13.2 MWh of battery distributed energy storage at the Maui campus, and 7.7 MW of solar PV and 28.6 MWh of battery storage at the community colleges campuses on Oahu.

In 2015, Hawaii became the first state in the country to make an unprecedented commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2045. Concurrently, UH and the Hawaii Legislature established a collective goal for the university system to be "net-zero" by Jan. 1, 2035, which means the system would produce as much renewable energy as it consumes across its campuses.