Solar Impulse shines the spotlight on Hawaii’s ambitious renewables goal

2015-07-08 - Solar Impulse’s stopover on Oahu is focusing the spotlight on Hawaii’s ambitious – and attainable – goal of switching to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. ABB is investing in technologies to make that transition possible.

Flying into the dawn light, Solar Impulse approaches the airport on Oahu where pilot André Borschberg touched down. Copyright:Solar Impulse Revillard Rezo.ch
Solar Impulse’s landing in Hawaii could hardly have sent a more powerful signal of the potential of renewables to transform the world’s energy supply. The aircraft had just completed a historic 7,200 kilometer flight over five days and five nights from Nagoya, Japan, powered by nothing but the sun, to land in America’s per-capita leader in solar power.

Bertrand Piccard and members of the Solar Impulse crew greet pilot André Borschberg upon his arrival on Oahu. Piccard will fly the next leg of the Pacific crossing to Phoenix
Twelve percent of Hawaii’s 1.4 million residents already get power from photovoltaic systems on their rooftops, and the take-up of renewables will only accelerate after Gov. David Ige in June signed a new law to pursue a goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

To help enable that transition, ABB – which has an innovation and technology alliance with Solar Impulse – has invested heavily in clean technologies. It offers the industry’s most comprehensive portfolio of products, systems, solutions and services to efficiently integrate solar power into the grid.

‘What the future can be’

“The 100 percent renewables target by 2045 is very exciting for Hawaii and for ABB,” said Bob Stojanovic, ABB’s director of solar power for North America. “ABB is investing in solutions for the future, as we see it, to integrate those technologies into the grid.”

This extends from inverters for rooftop systems and switchgear for utility scale projects to sophisticated software and control systems needed to efficiently manage unprecedented amounts of distributed solar power coming on line, in Hawaii and beyond.

Robert Harris, the public policy director at Sunrun, calls ABB a leader in developing products not only to master the technical challenges that accompany the transition to renewables, but also in helping reduce the costs of such an endeavor
“We hope Solar Impulse allows some of the policy leaders in Hawaii to dream about what the future can be,” said Robert Harris, public policy director at Sunrun, the largest dedicated residential solar company in the United States with customers in seven states, including Hawaii. “ABB is one of the leaders in research – in developing better products that can handle the technical issues, and also trying to drive down costs to make sure this something that’s more affordable for the consumer.”

Next Stop: Phoenix

With pilots André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard alternating at the controls, Solar Impulse began its record-breaking 35,000-kilometer voyage to circumnavigate the globe in a plane powered by nothing but the sun on March 9.

In many of the cities and countries where Solar Impulse is now soaring above on its journey, ABB is delivering the equipment necessary to make solar power a viable, reliable and sustainable contributor to electricity generation that people demand for their homes and businesses.

The plane's next stop is Phoenix, Arizona, the location of an ABB solar inverters factory.

Solar Impulse, supported through its innovation and technology alliance with ABB, lands in Hawaii
Helping Hawaii meet its target

With its transformers, power storage devices, switchgear, software, control systems and inverters, ABB is well-positioned to help Hawaii reach its ambitious target for renewable energy in an orderly fashion that ensures not only reliable power for residential and commercial applications but also helps ease the transition for utilities.

“Hawaii has more solar per person than any of the other 50 states,” said Marco Mangelsdorf, whose Hawaiian-based company, ProVision Solar, has provided solar electric products for homes, businesses and government applications since 1998. “It’s been a real pleasure to work with many people at ABB… to bring your products to market here.”

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