Waste-to-Energy Microgrid Test at Hawaii Air Force Base…and Other Quick Microgrid News

Feb. 26, 2016
The Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) will be the site of a $6.8 million waste-to-energy microgrid test.

The Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) will be the site of a $6.8 million waste-to-energy microgrid test.

The demo tests the viability of using renewable energy and microgrids to assure that the Air Force can continue mission critical operations regardless of the state of the public utility grid or cyber-attack. The project is being sponsored by the High Technology Development Corporation’s (HTDC) Hawaii Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies (HCATT).

The waste-to-energy (WTE) project showcases the efficacy of converting 10 tons of waste per day to electricity using a state-of-the art gasification technology. Phase I of the military microgrid will utilize a rotary kiln gasifier that turns waste into fuel, heat and electricity.

JBPHH was selected based on Hawaii’s variety of renewable energy sources, the high cost of electricity and complexity of the Hawaii Air Guard’s 154th Wing, which operates the F-22, the most advanced fighter in the U.S. inventory.

“The Hawaii Guard’s flying wing is as complex as any Air Force fighter wing, but in a much more compact footprint,” said HCATT Director, and former HIANG Commander Brigadier General Stan Osserman. “This demonstration signifies an important step toward energy security and net zero goals for waste, not only for the military, but for civilian populations throughout the islands, and even beyond.”

The waste-to-energy project represents an investment by the Air Force to determine the feasibility of solving the challenge of waste disposal with the opportunity to offset the cost of electricity on base. The system at JBPHH was built by BESI. It is designed to handle 2-10 tons of waste per day and generate a net 200-300 kW of baseload power using four generators run from the syngas produced by the gasifier.


Energy storage-enabled virtual power plants (VPPs) are expected to invade energy markets, serving as highly networked systems and precursors to a fully functional Energy Cloud, according to a new report from Navigant Research.

“The energy storage industry began to noticeably scale in 2015,” says Anissa Dehamna,  principal research analyst. “Looking to 2016 and beyond, it is expected that the energy storage industry will resolve persistent issues such as standardized contracts and modular system design, embrace new business models such as residential storage and virtual power plants, and begin to see pressure and interest from the IT space.”

Among other top trends for the energy storage industry, Navigant predicts the energy storage sector will leverage lessons learned from distributed solar to quickly standardize how energy storage system components should be built and how they should perform and communicate on the grid.

According to the white paper, this evolution could help to rapidly reduce project costs, resulting in more modular energy storage systems with standardized power and energy performance capabilities and lower costs over the near- to mid-term.

The white paper, Five Trends for Energy Storage in 2016 and Beyond, also examines some major market issues driving investment in energy storage around the world and how various stakeholders are adapting to the changing market.


Keeping vaccines cool is a major public health challenge across the developing world, where a lack of electricity can mean vital medical supplies aren’t kept cool enough to be fit for use. Conventional solar powered refrigerators rely on large, heavy batteries for storing energy to run after dark or during cloudy weather. These batteries have a limited life and their replacement is frequently a difficult logistical challenge. A battery-free solar fridge could be the solution.

The Solar Direct Drive Refrigerator, from renewable energy systems designer/manufacturer Dulas, uses advanced phase change material (PCM) that freezes and thaws at +5 degrees. This PCM is frozen when the sun is out and at night it slowly melts maintaining a stable +5C inside the refrigerator. For vaccines to remain potent they must always be stored between +2C and +8C so Dulas’ +5C refrigerator is perfect for this task.

This research and development of the Solar Direct Drive fridge has been supported by the Welsh government’s SMARTCymru program. The refrigerators have successfully exceeded stringent World Health Organization PQS Standards. They are currently being shipped to remote regions in Honduras, Yemen, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

“Solar powered refrigerators are the simplest and most effective solution to the challenge of preserving life-saving vaccines for health centers without access to consistent electricity across the world,” said Guy Watson, head of International Operations at Dulas.


As residential roof top solar systems become increasingly popular, they also face challenges like increased grid instability, unequal electricity charges, and complex electricity supply demand adjustments.

As a solution, Sunverge Energy, a U.S.-based provider of distributed energy resources offers batteries that pair with solar systems, as well as software services to aggregate and orchestrate distributed energy-like battery energy storage units and electric vehicles. By analyzing the status of transmission and distribution lines, the software determines the optimal combination of individual DER controls; for instance, charge/discharge of the energy storage units and allowance/disallowance of remitting electricity to the grid from household solar power systems.

General trading company Mitsui has acquired an equity stake in Sunverge. By effectively using Sunverge’s aggregation and orchestration software to overcome difficulties with the electricity grid, Mitsui aims to contribute to further promotion of the use of renewable energy. The company also aspires to realize a virtual power plant business model through integrated control over diverse DERs by utilizing the unique characteristics of Sunverge software.


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About the Author

Cara Goman

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