The completion of large grid-scale projects and thousands of residential solar systems provided the largest-ever annual increase in solar capacity on Hawaiian Electric’s five island systems.

The utility reported today that total solar capacity surged 21 percent, increasing from 745 cumulative installed megawatts in 2018 to 902 megawatts at the end of 2019. It was the largest one-year increase since the company began tracking solar capacity in 2005. There are now an estimated 3.5 million solar panels producing electricity on the company’s five grids.

In addition, nearly 3,500 new systems across Oahu, Hawaii Island and Maui County were completed, supporting the company’s drive to reach the state’s next milestone of 30 percent renewable energy by the end of 2020.

Installation of residential rooftop solar systems used by Hawaiian Electric customers increased 4.6 percent in 2019 from 2018, and Hawaii continues to lead the nation in rooftop solar adoption.

Year-end figures show that 19 percent of residential customers in Hawaiian Electric’s five-island service territory are using rooftop solar, up from 18 percent in 2018.

Hawaii’s percentage of residential customers with rooftop solar is more than double that of California, which is second at 6.6 percent; Arizona is third at 5.5 percent; Rhode Island and Guam, both fourth at 4 percent; and Utah at 3.6 percent, according to an analysis of 2018 data by the Smart Electric Power Alliance.

Residential rooftop solar systems installed on Oahu, Hawaii Island, Maui, Molokai and Lanai rose to 77,801 in 2019 from 74,331 in 2018, up 4.6 percent.

Residential systems 2018 2019
Oahu 53,222 19% 20%
Maui County 11,956 19% 19%
Hawaii Island 12,623 16% 17%
Consolidated 77,801 18% 19%

Including commercial and grid-scale units, there are now 81,783 solar systems online, capable of producing 902 megawatts.

“The numbers show the adoption of residential rooftop solar remains strong, increasing year after year across all of our islands,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president of customer service. “Rooftop solar is a critical piece of the renewable mix, and our plans call for tripling the amount already installed to help move the state toward a clean energy future.”

On Oahu, 37 percent of single-family homes now have rooftop solar; on Hawaii Island, 21 percent; in Maui County, 27 percent.

In addition, three solar arrays built by Clearway Energy Group totaling 110 megawatts and Hawaiian Electric’s West Loch solar array producing 20 megawatts came online on Oahu in 2019.

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