Hu Honua resumes construction of biomass power plant

By Katie Fletcher | January 21, 2015

Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC announced last month that it would resume onsite operations before the close of 2014 on its 30-MW biomass power facility. These operations include final site preparation, delivery of specialized equipment and construction mobilization.

Hu Honua made plans to move forward with operations after a settlement was reached with Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co. to resolve a contractual dispute between the parties pertaining to the refurbishment of the renewable energy facility.

The plant will be located on the site of the former Hilo Coast Power Co. in Pepeekeo, Hawaii. The site dates back to 1857 when a sugar mill was developed there, which ended its production in 1994. A power facility on the site operated through 2004. The power facility was originally fired with sugarcane bagasse, but when sugar production stopped the facility produced power using coal.

Now, the former coal-fired power facility is being refurbished to run on biomass. The final phase of construction is underway, including survey and permitting work, and is expected to reach completion within a year of full mobilization.

In late October, HHB announced the delivery of two shipments of specialized equipment in Hilo, including a custom re-injection system, where the brackish water will return to its original source after it has passed through the system’s condenser and cooled the turbine’s exhaust steam, and an air quality emission control operating system to manage the facility’s input and output. The air quality control system includes a set of forced and induction draft fans to regulate air and gas flow, maximize system efficiency and lower emissions.

Other specialized equipment, including fuel handling and the remaining emissions control equipment, has been fabricated and is being shipped to Hilo from the mainland.

Last September, Hu Honua invested in a 30-MW steam turbine generator manufactured by Shin Nippon Machinery Co Ltd. Hu Honua will export the generated renewable energy to the Hawaiian Electric Light Company grid. Biomass Magazine reported that Honua and HELCO signed a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for 21.5 MW, approved by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Dec. 20, 2013.

According to Hu Honua’s website, the plant will take in locally-grown biomass, such as eucalyptus, as feedstock. Once operational, the plant is expected to meet approximately 10 percent of the power demand on Hawaii’s Big Island.