Hawaiis PUC allowed the utilities to end their popular net metering programs and replace them with the Customer Self Supply program. The CSS program requires zero exportation of self-generated power back to the grid, which can most-efficiently be accomplished by integrating battery storage into the system.

HiVE - PV plus Storage Solutions for Hawaii and Beyond

Abbas Akhil | HiVE Energy Systems

Tell us a little bit about HiVE and how the business got started.

“With abundant sunshine and a tropical climate, solar PV has been embraced by Hawaii, where it has the highest per capita adoption rate of any US state. A legislative mandate requires that Hawaii be 100% powered by renewables by 2045.The rapid growth of PV spurred by multiple initiatives in Hawaii has exceeded the utilities’ ability to integrate renewables.

To cope with this situation, the popular “net metering” program was replaced by a “Customer Self Supply” program, requiring zero export of PV power back into the grid. Seizing this opportunity, the engineers and designers at HiVE developed a readily deployable solution to convert conventional PV systems to “zero export”, by adding safe battery storage to shift energy generated during the day to evening loads.”


Why do you feel residential/commercial energy storage is so important now?

“On-site residential/commercial energy storage is important now, because Li batteries allow a compact footprint while storing even more energy than legacy batteries such as lead-acid and Ni-Cd. The push for reliable, low cost EV batteries has paid dividends for  stationary energy storage systems by making smaller storage systems affordable for homes and businesses. At HiVE we believe that sufficient large, central energy storage plants have been deployed on all the Hawaiian islands and the time has come to support the grid edge by deploying storage systems on the distribution side of the grid. We are taking a bottom-up rather than a top-down approach to balancing the grid by using energy storage on the distribution side rather than deploying it only on the transmission side of the grid.


In addition, retrofitting existing PV net meter systems with HiVE storage provides additional energy security to the home/business owner by providing power to their home or business in the event of a utility power outage – whereas a grid connected PV system without a storage system goes down with the grid, even during sunny days.”

What is the entry opportunity for HiVE and give us an idea on what sets HiVE apart from other energy storage solutions.

“Integrated battery storage overcomes utility push-back in highly penetrated residential and commercial circuits. HiVE fills the unmet need for safe, economical, environmentally-friendly energy storage systems and qualifies for the generous Hawaii (35%) and Federal (30%) tax credits. The HiVE battery platform is a commercial and technical success in Hawaii, where we have already sold and installed over $1 million of commercial batteries and entered into leases for 45 residential units.

HiVE’s unique fully-integrated high-voltage battery management platform uses safe lithium-iron phosphate batteries, is available in practical sizes, direct couples to PV strings through its proprietary Multi-Mode Adaptive Power technology, and is designed to be compatible with any conventional inverter on the market. On an installed basis, HiVE is more affordable than any other residential storage solution.

And, HiVE is a Hawaii-grown and owned business and we operate on all the islands providing quick service to all our customers.”

Tell us about PUC and the actions they play in facilitating energy storage deployment in Hawaii where HiVE began?

“Hawaii’s PUC allowed the utilities to end their popular net metering programs and replace them with the Customer Self Supply program. The CSS program requires zero exportation of self-generated power back to the grid, which can most-efficiently be accomplished by integrating battery storage into the system. Essentially, a stand-alone PV system will no longer be approved in Hawaii, but one with integrated battery storage will be fast-tracked.

With its unique advantages cited in #3 above, HiVE is well positioned to take advantage of this market opportunity.”

Given that HiVE is a Hawaiian company, how do you see expansion to the Continental US, what challenges and advantages do you foresee?

“New PV installations with integrated storage and zero export features are already embraced by utilities in Hawaii, California, Nevada, and an increasing number of other States. At some future time HiVE will capitalize on its superior technology and affordability by expanding to California and the rest of the US through distribution arrangements with major solar installation companies and panel manufacturers.”

From an integrator's standpoint, give us an idea on the permitting and installation process for a HiVE system.

“We anticipate the bulk of HiVE’s business will be as an integral component of new PV systems. As such, it will tag onto the PV electric permit. The labor-saving HiVE platform integrates all “zero export”, battery management, and power smoothing components into one, easily-installed unit. As mentioned, HiVE qualifies for the same tax incentives as PV does (when coupled with a new PV installation), so no additional paperwork is needed to claim these valuable benefits.

Retrofitting an existing PV system to incorporate a HiVE system will require an additional electric permit, but the convenient sizes and labor-saving attributes of the HiVE platform will make the retrofit very economical.”

Once installed what kind of savings would a homeowner experience versus the upfront costs?

“In Hawaii and other states where “zero export” requirements prevail, the only way to install PV is with a battery system and the most economical of these is the HiVE platform. So, in these states, the homeowners’ most economical option to benefit from the savings of installing PV is to integrate a HiVE system.  

The HiVE system uses power generated on-site to handle a home’s electrical load when the sun isn’t shining (evenings, cloudy days) or during utility power outages. As HiVE’s net cost after tax incentives is rather modest, the return on investment is attractive, but is dependent on how much evening power is consumed. HiVE also offers an attractive leasing option to residential customers, eliminating all upfront costs.”

Take a look 5 or 10 years down the road, where do you see the residential energy storage industry and how is HiVE involved?

“Most highly-regarded industry observers predict very robust growth in renewable energy generation and storage. The Energy Storage Association, the national storage industry group, recently announced a target deployment of 35 GW of energy storage by 2025. In the next 5 years we foresee a significant portion of that target deployment will be behind-the-meter residential and commercial energy storage units as utilities, regulators, and consumers recognize the value of storage at the grid edge.

Ten years down the road, the picture could be quite different as grid operations become more distributed, EV’s and renewable systems have achieved greater penetration and demand response tools are readily available to consumers. We can foresee clustered energy storage systems aggregated to provide grid services emulating the services that are provided by fossil fuel-fired power plants today.

Given its compatibility with all conventional inverters and its technological, pricing, and ease of installation advantages, HiVE is extremely well positioned to capture a significant share of the future energy storage markets in the US and internationally.”


About Abbas Akhil
After leading Sandia National Laboratories’ energy storage program for 23 years, Mr. Akhil joined HiVE in 2017.  Mr. Akhil is a nationally recognized expert in electricity storage, conventional and advanced micro-grids, distributed generation, photovoltaic power generation, and electric utility system planning.  Prior to joining Sandia National Laboratories, Mr. Akhil was a Senior Energy Conversion Engineer with the Public Service Company of NM for 12 years.  Other key roles and accomplishments include: member of the International Project Evaluation Panel for the 2015 Energy Storage Grant Call by the Energy Market Authority, Singapore;  technical support to Hawaii Electric Company for 180 MW energy storage to support Oahu’s grid during system contingency; lead author, DOE/EPRI 2013 Electricity Storage Handbook; development of energy storage strategies for the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute; member of assessment team for Indian Clean Energy Deployment Programs, January 2010, funded by USAID, India; technical advisor to the Electricity Storage Association (ESA), Washington, DC; co-author of the CERTS Micro-grid concept paper for autonomous, distributed control of generation and storage sources in a micro-grid; initiated first micro-grid project at Ft. Sill for the US Army and the first CERTS micro-grid project at Maxwell Air Force Base; technical support to Hawaii Dept. of Transportation for PV systems installation at island-wide airport sites, including developing specifications, RFP’s and vendor selection.


The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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