Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Obama Connection: Hawaii Welcomes its Favorite Son as Trade Winds Make a Point

(For an idealized view of what the Obama Administration might mean for Hawaii's renewable energy industry, click here.)
Search engines, do your stuff: Obama, Hawaii, solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), oil dependence, vulnerable. That should do it.

Senator Barack Obama (aka Barry to some folks here) is in town during a week of strong trade winds, and Hawaii Energy Options may never have a better chance to snare some attention for Hawaii’s bid to be a renewable energy model.

The Honolulu Advertiser does its part today for the Senator’s Sunday morning reading by summarizing the state’s renewable alternatives as it highlights wind energy development around the state. Wind is said to already supply 9 percent of Maui’s electricity, with more on the way. The hills behind Kahuku on Oahu’s north shore are targeted for two farms that would put a slight dent in the island’s oil dependency. But every little bit helps, right?

Which gives us yet another opportunity to tout OTEC as the energy game-changer for the islands. The tropical ocean around Hawaii has all the stored energy the island chain needs to replace fossil fuel generation for electric power. (If you’re new to island energy issues and know nothing about OTEC, thanks for visiting and please study up. Google’s a big asset, and we’ve posted a good deal here about OTEC, since it's why we started the blog in the first place.)

Obama Talk Story

Here’s what we’d discuss with the born-and-raised-here presidential candidate if we had a few moments of his time:

• Federal energy programs and top-down pressure to eliminate oil as a fuel to generate electricity in the United States by the end of your second term in 2016 would be a spectacular achievement for your Administration – both for oil dependency and climate change issues.
• It’s an achievable goal, the accomplishment of which would position one of the states – your home state – as a model for aggressive renewable energy development for the planet.
• Hawaii is the nation’s most oil-dependent state and generates 78 percent of its electricity by burning the high-priced import, according to the Advertiser story. (This blog previously pegged it at 77.2 percent.)
• Hawaii can’t wait until 2030 to achieve 70-percent reliance on renewables for its energy needs. That’s the target set by Republican administrations in Washington and Honolulu in the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. The goal is too conservative, Senator, and the imperative to get off oil here is too great to be satisfied with it.
• America needs an exportable technological expertise to offset her diminishing stature in the field. OTEC can be the bridge to a hydrogen economy, as well as a source of electricity and fresh water for the planet’s most isolated society, your beloved Hawaii, and populations elsewhere in desperate need of energy and water.

We could go on, but we’d have only enough time to get out that much. We wish the Senator an enjoyable vacation here, with some energy education thrown in.

Energy for Lanai

A column in the Advertiser today written by Lanai residents asks the “what’s in it for me” question regarding David Murdock’s ambitious plan to build a 300-megawatt Windfarm on their island and ship the power via undersea cable to Oahu.

It’s worth reading – and so, we suggeest, are the Lanai-related early posts to this blog when we suggested OTEC could be the key to Lanai becoming a truly green, fossil-fuel-free island within a few short years.

Among the residents’ concerns is the potential loss of a large chunk of their island to the Murdock project. A floating OTEC plant with underwater transmission cables to Lanai would have no land impact as it supplied electricity for all the island’s needs (think plug-in vehicles), as well as vast quantities of fresh water each day that would be piped ashore.

First Lanai, then Hawaii, then the nation, and then…… Welcome home to the possibilities, Senator.

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