Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii Becomes 100% Powered by Solar
THE SUN’S RAYS ARE DOING MORE THAN PROVIDING GUESTS WITH A TAN at Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii. The water park in Kapolei, Oahu, is now off the grid by producing its own power.
This season, the park activated a 1.3 megawatt (MW) solar-powered system that makes it one of Hawaii’s first 100% solar-powered attractions. The feat is quite the accomplishment since the nearly 30-acre park is located in a U.S. state with one of the highest electricity costs per kilowatt hour (kWh).
The energy is collected via 2,958 high-efficiency 440-watt solar panels that fully power the park’s 26 attractions and facilities during normal operations. A secondary benefit is that the panels provide covered parking to more than 80% of the parking lot, shielding guest vehicles from the sun.
Proving it’s never too late to create a sustainability plan, the idea for powering the facility with solar was first conceived in 1999 during initial planning for the park. Once open, the park continually monitored improvements in solar energy production and the cost of the needed equipment.
“Technology has advanced significantly in solar energy over the years and accelerated recently, which allowed us to choose the most beneficial option both in capital cost, as well as in energy production,” says Scott Loos, the park’s general manager. “This project allows us to predict one of our largest expenses and control future financial positions with a high level of accuracy.”
Kapolei receives about 275 days of sunshine annually, making the switch to solar a win-win.
Part of the strategy involved finding the right partner to make the system a reality. Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii turned to solar-energy specialists Sunspear Energy for answers. Together, they developed a system that can produce more than 2,150,000 kWh in its first year—that’s the energy equivalent of powering more than 200 homes.
Monitoring and maintaining the system is also a partnership, according to Loos.
“The solar array, for the most part, is a self-operating system. We have the ability to monitor individual panels and inverters via the systems software. If panels or inverters become inoperable, we work closely with Sunspear Energy to get them back online expeditiously,” Loos tells Funworld. The solar panels are angled at 7 degrees, which allows them to be washed clean of dirt or pollutants by rainfall.
For their efforts, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi proclaimed April 22 as “Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii Green Energy Day.”