Half Moon buys into Hawaiian solar market

Hawaiian solarA renewable energy company making the shift from utility-scale wind installations to commercial and municipal solar projects broke into the Hawaiian solar market earlier this month.

Half Moon Ventures purchased 1 megawatt of distributed solar power generation spread across six sites on three different islands in mid-December. CEO Michael Hastings said the ink was still wet on the deal and he wasn’t ready to say who the seller was.

“With 1 megawatt, it’s not huge,” Hastings said. “But it’s really significant for us.”

Since Half Moon, based in Illinois, decided to make the strategic switch to distributed generation from utility-scale projects, the company has been building business in states where solar and wind make the most economic sense. Electricity costs are higher in Hawaii than in any other state.

“We’re leaving behind some of the states where renewables are less competitive,” Hastings said. “We’re concentrating on projects that don’t just make environmental senses, but that also make economic sense.”

Rather than pop into Hawaii and attempt to build a portfolio from the ground up, Hastings said Half Moon looked for an existing project that could help the company establish itself in what he expects will become a very competitive solar market.

“This project will enable us to develop a lasting reputation and establish a foundation where we can build,” Hastings said.

Buying the existing projects helped Half Moon make connections with regulators, government entities and some other important players in Hawaii’s renewable energy industry, Hastings said.

And all of that will make building fresh projects easier.

While 1 megawatt isn’t a lot, Hastings said it was hard to find solar installations bigger than 100 kilowatts that the energy company could buy. But Hastings said he’s optimistic Half Moon will be able to build a reputation in the state and begin building bigger projects there for commercial and municipal clients.

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