“COOL THE SCHOOLS” INITIATIVE
In the 2016 Legislative session, an initiative was taken by the State of Hawaii to cool 1,000 public school classrooms, with instructions not to add to the net energy load. Hot temperatures and poor ventilation do not create an environment suitable for student learning. Many of the public-school buildings had outdated electrical infrastructure, making it unfeasible to add air conditioning systems to the buildings’ existing electrical load.
The Sunspear Energy team was part of a group selected to integrate solar plus Tesla Powerwall battery systems to several of the DOE campuses on the West Side of Oahu, where temperatures are the hottest. Sunspear installed over 150 total Powerwall units, Ilima Intermediate School in Ewa Beach was one of the first campuses selected by the State as being in desperate need of air conditioning. The Sunspear team installed a micro-grid solution that powered the new air conditioning systems without adding to the campus’ electric bill.
Rooftop solar PV was installed at each building of various roof surfaces and shapes. The engineering team of Sunspear designed the systems in a way so that each building served as a micro-grid and the power generated by the rooftop solar could be shared amongst the classrooms and stored in the Tesla Powerwall battery storage without requiring any outside electricity from the power grid. This system was a first-of-its-kind installation and was later replicated to restore power in disaster relief situations such as Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico later that year.