Massive photovoltaic system doubles as learning site

Bishop Museum "Flips the Switch" HONOLULU — On May 26, Bishop Museum unveiled the largest teaching tool in the museum’s history, a 10,800 square foot photovoltaic system. The 720 Kyocera (solar) panels located on the museum’s roofs and grounds are the core element to demonstrate, teach and inspire Hawai‘i to harness nature’s energy. The system will send raw data into a user-friendly interface and interpretative display for visitors to the museum’s Richard T. Mamiya Science Adventure Center.

The photovoltaic system is the largest to be constructed in Hawai‘i by a non profit organization this year and, by all estimates, will save the organization hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of the system. It will also reduce the museum’s dependence on fossil fuels by 250,000-kilowatt hours (kwh) of electricity each year, the CO2 emissions equivalent of driving a car 424,243 miles.

“We are extremely excited about the launch of this solar project not only because of its cost saving benefits, but because this project will also serve as a learning tool for our visitors,” said Timothy Johns, president and CEO of Bishop Museum. “Some of the learning programs connected to this new photovoltaic system include an interpretative display and “Family Science Nights” here at the Mamiya Science Adventure Center.”

This project aligns with one of the objectives of Bishop Museum’s Science Adventure Center to teach visitors about climate change and what can be done by tapping into the earth’s alternative energy sources such as wind, ocean and solar. The interpretive display will show the amount of electricity being generated at that moment by the Kyocera panels. To broaden its reach, the museum’s outreach program, Holoholo Science, brings hands-on science activities to schools throughout the state of Hawaii. One of the themes is “Climate Change: The Earth and You” which features interactive work stations, activities that measure the carbon footprint of our everyday activities, and tips on what everyone can do to reduce their dependence on energy generated by fossil fuels.

The 170-kilowatt solar system project was installed by local energy project developer, Energy Industries and funded through a power purchase agreement with Solar Power Partners.

About Bishop Museum
The Bishop Museum was founded in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop in memory of his wife Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last direct descendant of King Kamehameha I. Today, the Museum is recognized as the principal museum of the Pacific, housing the world’s largest collection of Hawaiian and Pacific artifacts and natural history specimens. More than 340,000 people visit the Museum each year, including over 40,000 schoolchildren. For more information, please visit

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