Sunday, May 4, 2008

Hawaii’s Oil Crisis To Hit Where it Hurts: Zippy’s

From ice cream to chili to electricity to gasoline to rice to everything they buy, Hawaii consumers are paying a high price for the islands’ crippling dependence on oil.

The Honolulu Advertiser makes the point in its lead business story today -- ENERGY PRICES SQUEEZE ISLAND COMPANIES (they even went all-caps in the headline).

This blog attempts to inform the public about the most abundant and exploitable source of energy on the planet – the ocean that surrounds us. Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) technology is a logical mid- to long-term (and permanent) solution to get Hawaii off oil.

OTEC undoubtedly is still not appreciated by most consumers, but most will appreciate this: Zippy’s is going to raise prices!

For readers beyond the reef, Zippy’s is Honolulu’s answer to McDonald’s and Denny’s – 24 hours of uninterrupted availability to food with special appeal to locals. Raising prices at Zippy’s, as the Advertiser story says is about to happen, will take our oil-driven energy crisis to a new level for some consumers. Others already are adjusting to the spike in oil prices by driving less, as reported in today’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Power from the Sea

But we digress. Ocean power is a no-brainer for Hawaii, and although wind, geothermal and solar energy all have contributions to make to reduce our fossil fuel dependence, OTEC is the biggest scoop of rice.

GO HERE for a wealth of information on ocean power, including OTEC. We’ll undoubtedly link to this site in future posts to steer newcomers (should they exist) to this excellent information source. Once there, clicking on “Home” for new posts on energy issues is recommended.

The Nile River Argument

There's a “talking point” used by OTEC’s critics that we've heard around Honolulu in recent days. We call it the Nile River Argument, and it goes like this: A big OTEC plant each day would have to move the equivalent of the Nile River’s daily flow to generate a significant amount of electricity.

When we heard it at Dr. Pat Takahashi’s book signing Friday evening, our response was in essence, “…and your point is…..?” A friend in Rotary heard the same argument a couple days ago by someone in the same corporation.

Our response is best summarized in the heading of this blog – that Hawaii needs 21st-century solutions to its serious energy predicament. Nothing is impossible, and the Nile River Argument can be treated as just another piece of information, not a barrier. (We’re not even sure it’s true.)

Introducing Zippy’s customers to OTEC technology and its possibilities is our ongoing goal, no matter what talking points are floating around out there.

Once the public fully appreciates OTEC’s possibilities, we’ll move mountains and rivers.

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