Assessing the potential of Maui for building CSP projects

In a recent visit to Maui in Hawaii, Abengoa Solar Inc. chief operating oficer Scott Frier mentioned that an ideal site for a 50-MW solar power plant would be a 250-acre (five acres for every megawatt) stretch of land between Kaupo and 'Ulapalakua, a veritable "hot spot" that would maximise the output of solar power.

And as for the price tag, a 50-MW solar power plant would cost around $320 million. In a conversation with, Frier, referring to the large installation of Solar Electric Generating Systems (SEGS) in Maui, said that it would be a steady and "rock solid" investment that would create lasting environmental and economic solutions to our current energy woes.

As per the same report, for Maui, Frier said parabolic troughs would be the most suitable system. "They are elegant in their simplicity," he said. "And they easily maintained… and durable and resilient under wind stresses."

Among key developments in Hawaii, work for building Keahole Solar Power, a CSP solar farm described as the first of its kind in the world, has already started. The project broke ground in July with an event hosted by Sopogy, Inc. on the Big Island at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELHA). The project, to be built in phases over several acres, will make large-scale use of Hawaii-based Sopogy's proprietary solar concentrating systems known as MicroCSP technologies. Keahole Solar Power is using $10 million in state-backed special-purpose revenue bonds, approved during the 2007 legislative session.