Bakken Estate

Case Study: Cutting-edge microgrid with a 6-year payback

Location:North Kona, HI
Size:176 kW solar, 1MWh storage
Completed:June 2015
Equipment:SunPower 345-watt modules
Tigo power optimizers
SMA inverters
Midnite charge controllers
Blue Planet Energy Blue Ion HI batteries


In the early 1990s, Earl Bakken, founder of the medical device company Medtronic, wanted solar power but settled for a building permit that authorized solar in the future when the technology was more advanced. Twenty years later, as Bakken’s propane generators were showing signs of age, he approached RES about a replacement system that could supply sustainable energy to his 17,000 square foot estate with desalination for drinking water, a greenhouse, a ballroom, and commercial air conditioning.


Facing especially steep costs for propane delivery due to site access constraints—trucks had to be equipped with four-wheel drive—Bakken got the best of both worlds. RES delivered a solar-powered microgrid system designed to pay for itself in approximately six years by offsetting exorbitant fuel costs. The system also provides enough clean energy to operate autonomously for three days, and it has a biodiesel generator for backup power.


“We have reduced our carbon footprint so significantly that it’s easy to feel very good about what we’ve done,” Bakken said of the project. “It’s also given us a sense of peace and quiet in this beautiful and pristine place where we live. We are grateful every day for the beauty of nature that surrounds us, and now we can add quietness to that list of things we’re thankful for. No more generator noise. Only the sound of the ocean, the wind through the trees, and the birds.”

Solar racking for a ground mount solar pv system.
A room of Blue Ion HI batteries
RES - Bakken Estate off-grid solar PV installation

“Where we live, the sun shines almost every day. It just made sense to me and felt like the right thing to do for our health and that of the environment.”

-Earl Bakken | RES customer
RES - Bakken Estate off-grid solar PV installation
RES - Bakken Estate off-grid solar PV installation
A hallway with a row of SMA inverters.