Energy Portfolio & Projects

NELHA Energy DistrubutionHOST PARK is home to a variety of renewable R&D and demonstration energy projects. Clients are also encouraged to use commercial solar power and other renewable technologies.





Photo of Makai Ocean Engineering Exchanger Test FacilityOCEAN THERMAL ENERGY CONVERSION (OTEC).   HOST Park has established itself as a leading test facility for OTEC technology since 1974. Closed and open cycle systems, as well as onshore and offshore systems which aim to produce electricity using the temperature difference between cool deep and warm shallow seawater, have been built and tested by various groups including the University of Hawaii, Lockheed Martin, Makai Ocean Engineering, and the US Navy.

Projects have been funded over the years by the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the US Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research (PICHTR), the US Department of Energy (DOE), the State of Hawaii and from private sources. HOST was the site of the first net energy-producing OTEC plant.

The park also operated a 250kW plant for 6 years in the 1990s. More recently, Makai Ocean Engineering completed the construction of a heat exchanger test facility in 2011 and has since received funding to install a 100 kW turbine which will be connected to the HOST Park research campus microgrid. NELHA plans to also host a 1 MW OTEC facility at HOST Park in the near future.

CONCENTRATED SOLAR POWER (CSP) concentrates solar thermal energy into a small area to heat a working fluid which then in turn can drive a heat engine to produce power. HOST Park’s high insolation and warm year-round climate make it an ideal site for the demonstration of new CSP technology.

Keahole Solar Power established its first pilot plant at HOST Park  in 2007 to demonstrate novel concentrating solar panels that could withstand storms and thermal energy storage systems. This facility is currently being utilized to demonstrate forward osmosis technology under a Department of Energy grant.

Photovoltaic Panel at NELHAPHOTOVOLTAICS (PV) converts solar radiation to electricity using semiconductors. Various solar companies have taken advantage of HOST Park’s prime location and tested innovative PV systems. Concentrating photovoltaic pioneer, Solfocus examined the effect of marine environments on their CPV systems.

HOST Park is the site of a new solar test bed funded by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The test bed will allow to compare various solar modules’ power generation, energy storage systems and their incorporation into a real world electrical grid with state of the art power monitors.

Many HOST Park clients take advantage of the ideal insolation and close to 1.5MW of commercial PV is either installed or will be operational in the very near future.

SEA WATER AIR CONDITIONING (SWAC) uses cold deep seawater to cool buildings. In general,  the seawater is passed through a heat exchanger and the resulting cooled air is delivered to the buildings. The very first real world SWAC system was developed at HOST Park.

But the technology is now used throughout the world including Sweden, Netherlands, Canada, and New York. All of NELHA’s administrative buildings are cooled by sea water.

Many of NELHA’s clients also take advantage of the significant savings provided by a SWAC system and have installed their own.



Photo of the Gateway BuildingGATEWAY. The award winning LEED platinum Gateway building is located at the entrance of Facility.  The building, which features photovoltaics, SWAC, and innovative structural designs, provides space to convene and educate.





RESEARCH SAFT Koyo BatteryCAMPUS ENERGY GRID, STORAGE AND MICROGRID. NELHA is working to develop the research campus micro grid. The electric grid components include a 1 MW Genset backup system, a variety of renewables (solar and OTEC), 24/7 pumps stations,  multiple business loads and a SCADA system.

Several Ocean Compressed Air Energy Storage (OCAES) projects have been proposed and would complement the micro grid functionality. Other storage projects are located elsewhere in the park such as the 250 kW SAFT containerized battery storage.

NELHA recently entered into a strategic partnership with the County of Hawai‘i and Hawai‘i Electric Light Company (PDF) to share resources and attract companies interested in testing and evaluating pre-commercial energy storage units at HOST Park.