by Steve Duda:  Hawaii has a lot going for it; near-perfect weather, postcard views, not to mention the Aloha spirit.  Hawaii also boasts of some of the most aggressive clean energy goals in the world, and with at least 66 renewable energy projects in various stages of development, this state is fast becoming a major player in the global clean energy economy.

Hard to believe, then, that things just got a little better in Hawaii as the state recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Japan’s Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) an arm of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, to build a first-of-its-kindsmart grid demonstration project on Maui. We first brought you word of this interesting project last month.

Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, blessed with year-round sun, consistent trade winds, and home to one of the earth’s most active volcanoes, Hawaii is one of the few places in the world capable of harnessing solarwindgeothermal and ocean thermal energy – all within a 200-mile span. With significant renewable energy already in place, Maui is the perfect location for the $37 million project, which is designed to establish a model to integrate clean energy in a smart grid system.

Maui smart grid

image via Shutterstock

More specifically, the project will develop and install smart utility system controls in the Kihei area on Maui to improve the integration ofphotovoltaics and electric vehicles. Advanced electric vehicle charging management systems will enable utility operators to better balance generation and power demand, while accepting larger amounts of solar and wind power.

Installation of the smart grid technology is expected to begin in late 2012, with the project becoming operational in 2013. The demonstration project is scheduled to run from 2013-2015. “It is our great pleasure to be provided a special opportunity to work along with Hawaii in a cutting-edge smart grid project under the Japan-U.S. Clean Energy Policy,” said President Hato of NEDO. “Such mutual collaboration will contribute to a breakthrough toward a solution needed by both countries, expansion of renewable energy and integration of grid networks. We hope that this project will provide a model for island grids in the Asia-Pacific region and across the globe.”