Renewable Energy Technology Incentives in Hawaii | The Renewable Energy Hub USA

Renewable Energy Technology Incentives in Hawaii


Blessed with plentiful sunshine and some abundant resources, Hawaii has introduced a range of renewable energy technology incentives to promote their change to clean energy. There ambitions are bigger and more comprehensive than other states in the US: The islands aim to have 100% of their energy from clean, renewable sources by 2045. That includes an interim goal of having 30% of power needs delivered by 2020.

It’s a huge task as the amount currently being delivered is only just over 20% but the state has already introduced a range of Feed in Tariffs for options such as solar PV and wind where those with the technology installed get paid for the electricity they produce. There’s no doubt that Hawaii sees clean energy not only as central to the wellbeing of the world but also a prime business opportunity that will create jobs and boost the economy of the state.

Unlike other states that are dependent on one or two types of renewable energy such as solar PV or biomass, Hawaii is hoping to utilize every means at its disposal including tidal power, geothermal and hydro. To this end they have set up schemes such as the Green Business Program and produced the legislation that ensures that local power companies will come on board and help promote green energy solutions, cutting down on fossil fuel usage.

Solar PV Incentives in Hawaii

As you might expect for a location that has a large amount of sunshine, Hawaii has excellent potential for solar PV and has been continuously adding to its commercial capacity since 2008. The Feed in Tariff is seen more as Power Purchase Agreement as it pays out less than the market value for electricity but it is still more than many other states in the US are offering. Add into this the Federal Tax Rebate and the high current cost of electricity on the island and there are opportunities for a reasonably good return on investment.

Hawaii has actually been offering energy tax credits since 1976 but now provide residents and businesses with more buying power through their Solar and Wind Energy Credit which can provide up to a 35% rebate on renewable installations. There are also low cost loan schemes in place such as the Maui County Solar Roofs Initiative Loan Program.

Solar PV Case Study in Hawaii

With the current range of incentives, Hawaii has the best return on investment for the US at the moment. You can either choose to purchase outright or lease from a company (where you hand over the rights for the incentives but benefit from cheaper electricity for the term of the lease). It’s far more advantageous to purchase however. For a 5 kW array you would expect to pay about $20,000 but tax savings could be as much as $11,000 which means that the cost of installation should be paid off well within 10 years. That leaves a profit over the 25 years of your solar panels in excess of $64,000 and that doesn’t even take into account the extra dollars put on the value of your home.

Solar Thermal Incentives in Hawaii

There are some dedicated incentives for the installation of solar water heating in Hawaii that makes it just as attractive as solar PV. Not only do you benefit from the Federal Tax Rebate but there’s the Solar Water Heat Rebate that can give you $1,000 off the price of installation. There are also low cost loans from organizations such as County of Kauai Housing Agency.

Small Hydro Incentives in Hawaii

Hawaii uses what are called ‘run of the river’ hydro plants where part of the course of a river is diverted and used to drive turbines. Research suggests that there is the capacity to produce about 145 MW from micro hydro in the state and the main rebate incentives available can be used to support this technology. Though small compared to areas like solar PV and thermal, it shows the states commitment to getting a full mix of renewables online.

Tidal power could also be big in Hawaii considering its huge potential. Northwest Energy have recently deployed a wave energy harvesting system that is under test for the next twelve months and the state could soon see itself taking the lead in this growing area of energy production.

Geothermal Incentives in Hawaii

Large projects such as the harnessing of geothermal energy in Puna are underway but there are also opportunities for residential and business premises to opt for ground source heat pumps. There are various incentives for this provided by the state including the Green Sun Hawaii low cost loan and the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative rebate project.

Biomass Incentives in Hawaii

The state is developing a range of biomass projects including the 30 MW Hu Honua bioenergy facility. Incentives such as Federal Tax Rebate and the low cost Farm and Aquaculture Alternative Energy Loan are certainly helping. Home and business take up is slow considering the incentives for solar PV and solar thermal.

Wind Power Incentives in Hawaii

Hawaii has around 114 commercial wind turbines that provide about 206 MW of capacity but the state has the potential to install much more, possibly producing some 12,000 million kWh per year. The Solar and Wind credit scheme can be used for both small and large wind turbine installations though much of the emphasis is on commercial applications at the moment.

Compared to many other states, Hawaii outstrips the rest by some degree with its ambitious plans to produce 100% clean energy by 2045. It is currently the best place to be if you want to invest in areas such as solar PV and could well be the model that many states need to follow in the future.

You can find more details about all the renewable energy technology incentives that Hawaii offers on the DSIRE web portal.

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