Startup collecting data to create detailed map of Oahu’s energy grid
A San Francisco-based startup is working to map Oahu’s energy system.
On Thursday, Kevala Inc. launched its project by hosting the first of a series of meetings with members of Hawaii’s energy community to collect data that will be used to create a detailed model of the grid. Kevala CEO Aram Shumavon said he plans to have an online web-accessible visual of Oahu’s energy system in roughly a year.
“At the end of the one-year period, we will have a working web-based version of the model of the grid,” said Shumavon. He hopes policymakers and different companies will use the model as Hawaii works to meet its goal to have 100 percent of the electrical utility’s energy mix coming from renewable resources. “We would like to eventually get to a point where the public at large can look at some version of this data.”
Aki Marceau, Hawaii projects deployment coordinator for the Honolulu-based startup support program called Elemental Excelerator, said the final result is comparable to Google Maps, but for an energy system.
“In the way that Google Maps allows you to see highways, on- and offramps, and congestion in real time and map your own trip, Kevala’s Network Assessor will allow you to see substations, distribution lines, feeders and capacity, and help energy stakeholders map scenarios to get to 100 percent (renewable energy),” she said.
Kevala is working with Hawaii Natural Energy Institute and Oakland, Calif.-based More Than Smart to create the project called Pathways to an Open Grid (POG).
Over the next year the series of open workshops will focus on distributed energy resources, such as solar systems and batteries, adoption plans, an analysis of the grid and location-specific benefits of distributed energy.
Colton Ching, senior vice president of planning and technology at HECO, said Friday the company is interested in the map idea.
“HECO was interested to learn about the POG project yesterday,” he said. “We’ll continue to consider feedback from stakeholder processes like the POG project as we work on these important issues for Hawaii.”
“This conversation is coming just at the right time,” said Isaac Moriwake, attorney for Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm. “More public transparency on how such customer-based clean energy resources can help build the grid of the future is going to be essential to moving Hawaii forward to its 100 percent renewable goal.”
Shumavon said the company is using building permits from the City and County of Honolulu, satellite imagery of photovoltaic systems and information from solar companies about the systems’ actual production to help build the model.
“All of that information really isn’t in one place,” Shumavon said. “The easiest thing to do is to build a version of the electric grid that allows people to experiment with it.”
This conversation is coming just at the right time. More public transparency on how such customer -based clean energy resources can help build the grid of the future is going to be essential to moving Hawaii forward to its 100 percent renewable goal.”
Attorney for Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm