Black & Veatch named Owner’s Engineer on Hawaiian pumped storage project

9 November 2021

AES Clean Energy (AES) has selected Black & Veatch as owner’s engineer for the pumped storage and hydropower portion of the West Kaua‘i Energy Project. 

Located on the Hawaiian island of Kaua‘i, the West Kaua‘i Energy Project (WKEP) is an integrated renewable energy and irrigation project that includes energy production with pumped storage hydropower, conventional hydropower, solar photovoltaic generation and battery energy storage. WKEP is a key component in the state’s decarbonization plans, as it will move Kaua‘i to more than 80% renewable generation and fulfill up to 25% of the island’s energy needs.

The pumped storage portion of the project will pump water from the lower Mana Reservoir to the upper Pu‘u ‘Opae Reservoir using energy production from the solar PV portion of the project. During the evening peak, nighttime and morning peak hours (as well as during periods of rainy or cloudy weather), water will be sent back to the lower reservoir via gravity penstock from Pu‘u ‘Opae, through the Mana Powerhouse and its 20MW Pelton turbine to generate renewable power for the grid. The process will cycle between daytime pumping and nighttime generation perpetually.

“Renewable energy and energy storage are key components of the decarbonization movement,” said Carlos Araoz, vice president and managing director of Black & Veatch’s hydropower and hydraulic structures business line. “This project not only features renewable energy in the form of pumped storage hydropower, it couples it with solar energy and battery storage in a renewable energy program that will play a significant role in helping both the island of Kaua‘i and the state of Hawai‘i reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.”

Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) signed agreements with AES for the development, construction and operation of the cooperative’s solar pumped storage hydro project and a power purchase agreement (PPA) was executed and filed with the Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission on December 31, 2020. As owner’s engineer, Black & Veatch will support AES in development of technical design criteria for hydropower and hydraulic structures of the project, providing design and constructability reviews, reviewing technical and procurement specifications, performing factory inspections and witnessing acceptance testing as well as providing construction and commissioning support and closing out the project.


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