Less certain is whether Castle & Cooke will achieve its goal of complete fossil fuel independence with only solar and wind power, which seems to be the plan.
A story in the current edition of Pacific Business News (it’s viewable only by print subscribers) details the company’s aggressive green energy effort – a 1.5-megawatt solar farm and up to 300 MWs of wind, most of it for export via underwater cable. But then there’s the big unanswered question: How will wind and solar energy be stored for use at night and when the wind isn’t blowing?
Baseload Energy Needed
One of our first posts to this blog ("Thinking Bigger: OTEC Power for Lanai") speculated that ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) could be the non-stop source of energy Lanai requires. Castle & Cooke’s wind and solar projects certainly are not to be discounted; they’re too big to ignore. But without reliable storage sufficient to meet the island’s needs, going totally green seems unlikely.
Storage technology is progressing, of course, and owner David Murdock may press ahead and install it regardless of cost and efficiency if it would get Lanai completely off oil. Going totally green would be a remarkable achievement and would fill his hotels with visitors on a quest for their own energy independence.
Mr. Murdock didn’t become a billionaire by ignoring costs and efficiency, but he also has been good at sniffing out opportunity when others missed the boat. That’s why we continue to urge him to take another look at OTEC, which could provide all the electrical energy and fresh water his island could want, and then some.
Safe vs. Innovative
We’ve run this idea up the flagpole several times – both here and within Castle & Cooke in meetings and by phone, email and letter – without getting anywhere, and here’s why we think that’s so: Mr. Murdock likes to own things he can taste and touch – pineapples and bananas, truck chassis, housing developments, brick manufacturing plants, hotels and resorts, golf courses, horse and cattle ranches, airport hangers, land-based energy projects and land, including the island of Lanai itself.
OTEC? It’s too watery, too remote, too strange and yes – it’s undoubtedly too new. Thing is, OTEC has so much potential to revolutionize Lanai, Hawaii and the planet’s energy supply that ignoring it is like dismissing the Wright brothers’ invention.
As we said back in March, this could be an unbelievable legacy for Mr. Murdock – maybe even the Johnny Appleseed of OTEC and purveyor of clean energy around the world.
If anybody reading this considers Mr. Murdock a Facebook friend (heh), send him a note about OTEC’s potential for his favorite island. Strange or not, this technology could be the key to Lanai truly becoming Hawaii's Green Island.