The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority’s (NELHA) campus on The Island of Hawai’i supplies resources for a number of renewable energy and aquaculture research projects. There is a growing interest at NELHA to convert the research campus to a 100% renewable, islanded microgrid to improve the resiliency of the campus for critical ocean water pumping loads and to limit the increase in the long-term cost of operations. Currently, the campus has solar array to cover some electricity needs but scaling up this system to fully meet the needs of the entire research campus will require significant changes and careful planning to minimize costs. This study will investigate least-cost solar and energy storage system sizes capable of meeting the needs of the campus.
The campus is split into two major load centers that are electrically isolated and have different amounts of available land for solar installations. The value of adding an electrical transmission line if NELHA converts to a self-contained microgrid is explored by estimating the cost of resources for each load center individually and combined. Energy storage using lithium-ion and hydrogen-based technologies is investigated. For the hydrogen-based storage system, a variable efficiency and fixed efficiency representation of the electrolysis and fuel cell systems are used. Results using these two models show the importance of considering the changing performance of hydrogen systems for sizing algorithms.