Black & Veatch Awarded Owner’s Engineer Role for Pumped Storage Hydropower Project in Hawaii

Nov 26, 2021

AES Clean Energy taps global water and power infrastructure leader to oversee development of pumped storage project that will offset millions of gallons of fossil fuels annually

Black & Veatch has been selected by AES Clean Energy (AES) to serve as owner’s engineer for the pumped storage and hydropower portion of the West Kaua‘i Energy Project, which will be a critical step in helping the state move closer to its target of 100-percent locally produced renewable energy by 2045. When complete, the overall program will reduce dependency on fossil fuels – offsetting the use of 8.5 million gallons of fossil fuels annually – for the island’s more than 70,000 residents.

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-percent renewable generation and fulfill up to 25 percent of the island’s energy needs.

The pumped storage portion of the project will pump water from the lower Mānā Reservoir to the upper Pu‘u ‘Ōpae 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 ‘Ōpae, through the Mānā Powerhouse and its 20-MW 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 hydro power 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.

The project is expected to stabilize and reduce energy rates over time, and provide agricultural, community and recreational benefits through water delivery. Restoring stream flows on four Waimea River tributaries in Kōkeʻe will improve the river’s natural habitat, while rehabilitation of three reservoirs will also assist first responders in fighting wildfires in the area.

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