Hawaii has turned on a Tesla battery claimed to be the “most advanced” of its kind in the world to help replace its last coal power plant and bring more wind and solar power online.

The 185MW/565MWh Kapolei Energy Storage (KES) project, made up of 158 Tesla Megapack batteries, each roughly the size of a shipping container, came online last month.

“This is a landmark milestone in the transition to clean energy,” said Brandon Keefe, executive chairman of the project’s US developer Plus Power.

“It’s the first time a battery has been used by a major utility to balance the grid: providing fast frequency response, synthetic inertia, and black start.”

“This project is a postcard from the future – batteries will soon be providing these services, at scale, on the mainland.”

Hawaii is aiming to transition to 100% renewables by 2045, with green power having provided a third of its energy mix in 2022.

That same year, it switched off its last coal-fired power plant, taking 180MW of generating capacity out of the equation on Hawaii’s largest island, Oahu.

Utility Hawaiian Electric says the KES project will help replace that capacity with renewables that were previously being curtailed to help balance the grid.

Within its first five years, it says the battery could cut curtailment of wind and solar by 69% and integrate 10% more new utility-scale renewables than previous models had allowed.

It will also allow for the continued growth of individually-owned renewables such as rooftop solar.

“KES is an important part of a portfolio of resources that work together to provide reliability and energy security on Oahu's isolated island grid,” said Jim Alberts, senior vice president and chief operations officer of Hawaiian Electric.

“Energy storage technology that responds quickly to constantly changing conditions is an essential tool for us to use to manage the grid and operate it as efficiently as possible.”

The KES plant interconnects near three of Hawaiian Electric’s critical power generation facilities, which Plus Power said will enable it to “support the reboot of those power plants in the event of an island-wide emergency, otherwise known as ‘black start’ capability.”

It will also provide synthetic inertia for the grid, instantaneously increasing output to counter any drop in frequency, along with fast frequency response to help balance power on Oahu.

Mike Snyder, senior director at Tesla Megapack, said this is the “first time a standalone battery site has provided grid-forming services at this scale,” which is a “critical” use for them in grids that boast a high load of variable renewable energy sources.