Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Obama Transition Team Briefing Should Embrace Diversity in Hawaii’s Renewable Resource Future

Rep. Cynthia Thielen is excited about participating in a “wave energy briefing with President-Elect Obama’s Transition Team” two days from now. (We’re still searching for information on this briefing and welcome your assistance by leaving links in the Comments section, below.)

Thielen is an ardent wave energy supporter and promotes the technology frequently. We wish her well in impressing Transition Team members with Hawaii’s renewable energy potential and hope she doesn’t stop with wave energy. As Jan TenBruggencate of Kauai wrote recently: “It's a dangerous game to insist that any one energy source, whether it's oil/coal, or waves or even OTEC, is all we need to be working on. There is danger in putting all your eggs in one basket.”

Thielen notes in her piece that “the University of Hawaii is one of only two National Marine Renewable Test Centers in the nation, and they will be funded for the next five years to study and implement wave energy systems.”

Thielen stopped short in describing the funding. The complete quote from the Department of Energy press release says the Hawaii Center “…will facilitate the development and implementation of commercial wave energy systems and to assist the private sector in moving ocean thermal energy conversion systems beyond proof-of-concept to pre-commercialization, long-term testing."

In other words, there’s more than wave energy in the Center’s agenda. We hope a variety of renewable energy technologies will be on the table when the Transition Team allots some of its valuable time this week to Hawaii’s renewable energy potential.


Roger davis said...

Rep. Thielen has been a tireless advocate for renewable energy in the legislature for many years and for that we all owe her our thanks. She does seem overly focused on wave energy in my opinion, a technology which to this date has a pretty minimal track record in terms of devices reliably producing any significant amount of power over any substantial length of time. Claims that the potential of wave energy is in any way comparable to that of wind or solar are highly unwarranted and premature, not to mention that its intermittency makes it substantially inferior to OTEC (although I must admit that the latter is also much unproven at this point).

See http://energyhawaii.wordpress.com/2008/10/03/wave-energy-a-reliable-alternative for a more detailed description of the current problems with wave energy.

Keep up the great work on this blog, Doug!

Roger Davis

Doug Carlson said...

Roger, thank you for your comment and link to your Energy Impact Hawai`i site. We're in agreement on Rep. Thielen's commitment to renewable energy development; she seems to be present at every energy-related announcement in the Governor's office and is a frequent commentary contributor. And we both conclude that wave energy, though intriguing, seems unlikely to achieve the results Rep. Thielen predicts. (Your post at the link you provided shows an exhaustive engineering-based approach; my conclusion was based on a gut check.)

I'll be spending more time at Energy Impact Hawai`i. Thanks for writing.

Michael said...

Aloha Doug,

Based on Rep. Thielen's article in the Hawaii Reporter, it appears that she is working with the group of stakeholders who sent a letter to President-Elect Obama on November 20 outlining “a set of principles to guide the development of ocean renewable energy”. (See copy of letter posted on the Web with the URL of: http://oregonstate.edu/~boehlerg/FTPgb/OceanRenewablePrinciples.pdf).