Officials from Hawaiian Electric Light Co (HELCO). are to seek regulatory approval to more than double the amount of geothermal power produced on Hawaii island.

More than half of Hawaii island’s electricity production would come from renewable sources under the plan to add 50 MW of geothermal energy and potentially mothball some of HELCO’s oil-fired power plants.

More than 30 per cent of Hawaii island’s electricity already is generated from renewable sources, including geothermal, wind, hydro and solar. The island is home to the state’s only geothermal plant, a 38 MW facility operated by Puna Geothermal Venture.

The combined 88 MW of geothermal energy production envisioned by HELCO would account for 48 per cent of the island’s 185 MW peak load. When the other renewable sources are added in, alternative energy would make up well more than half of the island’s electricity consumption.

HELCO officials said they will ask the Public Utilities Commission for permission to seek bids from developers for the 50 MW of geothermal energy.

Bidders will have to supply “dispatchable” power, meaning HELCO will have the capability to turn it on and off as needed to maintain the stability of its grid, HELCO said.

At the same time, HELCO officials said they will undertake technical studies to assess the impact of integrating additional geothermal power into the island’s electrical grid.

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