The Green Leaf

Reaching new solar heights

September 6th, 2012
It took 47 helicopter lifts to transport solar panels and other materials on to the rooftop of Kukui Plaza's two towers. Sunetric is installing the 200-kw solar PV system to help offset costs in the complex's common areas, setting a record for the tallest one in the state. Courtesy photo.

It took 47 helicopter lifts to transport solar panels and other materials on to the rooftop of Kukui Plaza's two towers. Sunetric is installing the 200-kw solar PV system to help offset costs in the complex's common areas, setting a record for the tallest one in the state. Courtesy photo.

The solar photovoltaics market in Hawaii has reached new heights with the installation of a 200-kW solar photovoltaic system on Kukui Plaza's two 32-story towers in downtown Honolulu.

Sunetric is installing the solar PV system, which is expected to offset about 32.2 percent of electricity in the complex's common areas.

That would include places like the walkways, elevators, parking garage and park.

Approximately 6,000 people live, work or pass through the complex every day, and maintenance fees continued to rise, due in large part to utilities.

The property's management proposed going solar to the Association of Owners' Board of Directors.

And amazingly, the board agreed.

"We needed to find a way to offset those rising utility costs, and Sunetric provided an avenue for us," said Henry Urquhart, Kukui Plaza operations manager. "Since 1981 Kukui Plaza has been a self-managed property, and it only makes sense for us to be self-sustaining, too."

Maybe this will set a precedent for other high-rises in Honolulu.

The solar PV system, which required 47 helicopter lifts to transport panels and other materials 280 feet high on to the rooftop, sets the record for the tallest PV system in the state (relative to ground level).

Kukui Plaza should expect to save about $22,870 a year due to the solar PV system, which it installed via a Power Purchase Agreement. After 20 years, Kukui Plaza will retain 100 percent of the savings from energy generated from then on.

Built in the 1970s, Kukui Plaza is a mixed-use condo project with 908 condo apartments, a 2.6-acre park and shopping mall with about 30 shops, restaurants and businesses.

Watch a video of the helicopter lifting the panels on to the rooftop of Kukui Plaza:

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