Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative Efforts Expanded; HECO Clears Path for Lanai, Molokai Wind Farms

Governor Linda Lingle today announced additional support for the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (you can watch her press conference). Two senior engineers/project leaders from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado will be stationed here to work on HCEI, which has a goal of supplying 70 percent of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2030.

(That’s the “shorthand” version of the goal and the one favored by the media – and even by the Governor’s office on occasion; HCEI apparently gets to 70 percent by reducing demand and adding new clean energy – a mathematical plus-minus contortion that we accept on face value.)

Also today, Hawaiian Electric said it has cut a deal with two wind energy developers to supply 200 MW each from their projects on Lanai (Castle & Cooke) and Molokai (First Wind). Both companies had proposed 400-MW farms, but HECO says by scaling back those plans, both can proceed without winding up in a court fight over the total package.

Of course, both projects are fantasy without undersea cables to transit their power to Oahu’s population center, and all those details have yet to be addressed – including the cost of laying the cables and the means to pay for the investment. One way or the other, customers will pay this "green energy" premium -- the price for reducing Hawaii's carbon emissions and drastically reducing fossil fuel consumption.

Noting a Birthday -- Belatedly

The press release announcing the wind arrangements prominently mentions the intermittent nature of these projects, and that leads us back to this blog's beginnings on March 14, 2008. That’s when we first touted ocean thermal energy conversion as the baseload power game-changer for Hawaii.

We’re pleased of course that wind energy projects appear to be gathering momentum, but without development of steady baseload renewable energy sources or radically improved storage capabilities, intermittent wind power projects will only get us part-way to our goal of eliminating fossil fuel dependence in the islands.

Precious little has been said publicly in the past four months since the Governor’s high-profile announcement about the proposed Lockheed Martin pilot plant off Oahu’s west coast. So please, Lockheed, Governor Lingle, HECO, anybody: Give us some good news about OTEC!

(This greeting isn't belated: Happy Birthday, Grandson Jack!)


Anonymous said...

One year old birthdays are symbolically significant in Hawaii. Congratulations. Clearly, the best for OTEC is yet to come. Hard to believe it's been that long. My anniversary is April 29.


Doug Carlson said...

Thanks for your birthday greeting, Pat, and I look forward to your 1st Anniversary at http://planetearthandhumanity.blogspot.com/