Thursday, August 27, 2009

Asia-Pacific Clean Energy Summit Opens Monday; Counting Down 100 Days to Copenhagen Summit

We never thought we’d do this – link to an item posted at “Hawaii Reporter.” The politics just isn't our style, and we do so only because it’s a convenient place to pick up a column by Ted Liu, director of the Hawaii Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

Liu writes about the Asia-Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo, which kicks off at the Sheraton Waikiki on Monday, August 31. Not coincidentally, the Summit is the focus of Monday’s Energy Futures show on Hawaii Public Radio.

We’ve put in our bid for two dynamic Summit participants on the program, plus (just maybe) a “surprise guest” by telephone to start the show. Now who do you suppose that could be?

Energy Futures: Monday, 5-6 pm, KIPO-FM, 89.3 in Hawaii and also streamed on the Internet.

The Last 100 Days

As the handy counter in the upper right of this page shows, we’re about 100 days away (depending on when you’ve clicked in) from the big Copenhagen Climate Conference. Let’s hope it’s the last 100 days of non-cooperation among the developed and developing nations on the global effort to reverse damage to the only climate we have – Planet Earth’s.

For one of the more intelligent assessments you'll hear about Copenhagen, global warming and climate change, listen to Hawaii Public Radio's interview with Dr. Stephen Schneider of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Vice President al Gore. Dr. Schneider was the guest on HPR's Energy Futures program on August 17.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Last-Minute Plug for Hawaii BizTax Summit

Better late than never…… Never up, never in…… A stitch in time saves nine....

We're familiar with clichés and do our best to keep the art form flowing like the Hudson River.

The BizTax Summit Hawaii 2009 is happening tomorrow and will offer “the newest tax saving opportunities,” according to its website. Here’s one gem:

“…more than 90% of a solar photovoltaic system can now be paid for with tax benefits, completely eliminating your tax liability.”

Where’s the line to sign up?

Speakers include Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, KGMB’s Howard Dicus and Mark Duda of Distributed Energy Partners. Duda’s also the President of the Hawaii Solar Energy Association.

We know. The train’s nearly left the station and we’re practically closing the barn door after the horse has bolted, but under the circumstances, it’s the best we can do. You snooze, you lose.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lockheed Awarded Navy Contract for OTEC Work

OTEC will tap solar energy stored in the tropical ocean.
Money to fund more development work on ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) isn’t gushing, but at least there’s a steady flow to encourage believers in this promising but still-distant technology.

The Defence Professionals website included the Navy’s $8.1 million contract with Lockheed Martin in a long list awards by the Department of Defense. At least one of them – to Boeing Co. – had 10 figures.

We can only hope that an 8- or 9-figure award is in somebody’s future to launch a full-fledged OTEC plant somewhere, such as Hawaii. Estimates to build even a 10-MW pilot plant are in the $200 million range, so if this technology is every to get a foothold, it’ll probably take a big fat DoD contract to make it happen.

Lockheed is putting a fair amount of its formidable PR muscle into OTEC, such as an attractive video featuring Dr. Ted Johnson, the company’s director of Alternative Energy Development.

Johnson will be in Hawaii for the 2009 Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo the first week of September. He’ll participate in an Ocean Energy breakout session Wednesday afternoon, September 2 with a presentation titled “OTEC Pilot Plant Project in Hawaii.” (We're looking forward to the session, as little has been said publicly about the project since Governor Lingle made an announcement nine months ago.)

DefPro’s OTEC Announcement

Lockheed Martin Corp., Manassas, Va., is being awarded an $8,119,625 firm-fixed-priced contract to advance the development of ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) technology system components and subsystems for Navy applications.

The work will support the Naval Facilities Engineering Services Center (NAVFAC ESC) Ocean Facilities Department in the execution of ocean energy systems development to advance OTEC as a renewable ocean energy technology for future applications at Department of Navy facilities.

The primary work to be performed includes identifying and supporting the most efficient and direct path to OTEC commercialization, and OTEC component and subsystem design, fabrication and validation tests. Work will be performed in Hawaii, California, Texas, and Virginia, and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2010.

Funds are provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with four proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Specialty Center Acquisitions, NAVFAC, Port Hueneme, Calif., is the contracting activity (N62583-09-C-0083).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Plugging a Nobel Winner’s Hour on Public Radio

Dr. Stephen Schneider during his visit to HPR's studios.
We’re still traveling and pretty much distant from energy issues in Hawaii, but thanks to Hawaii Public Radio’s capabilities, our interview with Dr. Stephen Schneider was captured and played back yesterday on “Energy Futures.”

Schneider of Stanford University was in Honolulu recently to attend the Hawaii Conservation Conference. He and his colleagues on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President All Gore.

It was pretty much a stream-of-consciousness performance by the climate scientist and is highly recommended as background for your future global warming and climate change conversations. Here’s a taste:

Schneider said we routinely avoid activities that have a 3-percent risk of a bad – perhaps even fatal – outcome, yet many still require convincing that a massive effort is required to confront climate-change consequences with a 33-percent chance of happening.

Our interview with him was archived and is accessible at this link. Dr. Schneider died on July 19, 2010.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

And Now for Some Weather of a Different Kind

In keeping with the weather them we’ve been stuck on for several posts, here’s the current Iowa-Illinois weather scene – thunderstorms approaching the Quad Cities from the southwest.

We’ll be back in the renewable energy groove in a few days after we take this brief interlude for a trip back to our roots. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Amazing, Disappearing, Depressed Felicia

The "swoosh" east of the state is all that's left of Felicia.
Well, she’s gone….never really arrived here actually. Felicia, a category 4 hurricane just days ago, went 3, 2, 1, tropical storm, depression and remnant before it got within a couple hundred miles of Oahu.

There’s some rain, and we’re on a flash flood watch. But that’s about it. The hurricane center doesn’t even have links to the former storm on its primary satellite website.

So long, Felicia. We hardly knew ye.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Watching Felicia but Moving On for OTEC, Part 3

8:30 PM Update: Felicia is hard to see Monday evening, so we've dropped in a graphic over the center of circulation. Yes....we're happy she's been downgraded to a tropical storm:

The breeze is barely moving the leaves, but that’s expected to change significantly within 24 hours or so as Felicia blows through the islands. “We could use the rain,” as they say, but we hope the sustained winds will be below the current 45 mph. A flash flood watch is in effect for most of the state. Here’s a recent look at Felicia:

But back to ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) and the final part in the series at Renewable Energy World dot com. This final article is full of quotes from Hawaii people, and their enthusiasm for the technology is catching.

This is the most comprehensive and energizing online focus we’ve seen about OTEC in a long time – maybe the best ever; here’s a tip of the hat to freelance science journalist Mason Inman, who’s based in Pakistan.

Recommended reading before taking on a long Part 3 are Part 1 and Part 2.

Today on ‘Energy Futures’

Just about when Felicia’s clouds move in we’ll be talking solar energy this afternoon at 5 on KIPO-FM (89.3 in Hawaii and streamed on the Internet). Guests will be Mark Duda, president of the Hawaii Solar Energy Association, and Riley Saito, senior projects manager for SunPower Corporation, which built Hawai`i’s largest solar farm on Lanai.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Felicia To Blow Through Hawaii as Tropical Storm

Felicia at 12:30 pm HST today -- blown apart by upper-level winds.
It’s already windy today ahead of Felicia, now downgraded to a tropical storm. The latest storm track (above) cuts right through the middle of the state. Here’s today’s assessment from The Weather Channel:

It is likely that Felicia will be either a weak tropical storm or a tropical depression as it moves through or near Hawaii on Monday. At this time, it appears impacts to Aloha State will not be major.

Gusty winds can be expected in the higher elevations, along the coast and in the channels between islands. Rainfall could be locally heavy resulting in localized flooding issues. Waves will rise on the east coast later today and peak in the 10 to 15 foot range on Monday.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Felicia Is an Energy Option We Can Do Without

It's been many years since a hurricane blew straight through Hawaii from the east,
as Felicia is expected to do early next week.
The latest on Hurricane Felicia has her taking dead aim on the Big Island of Hawaii. That sentence requires no additional qualifiers or adjectives; any storm this size and this close to the islands deserves respect.

Yes, the fact that Felicia has “weakened” may be somewhat comforting, but it’s still a Category 2 storm right now, with winds of 100 miles per hour. Hurricane Iwa in 1982 struck Oahu as a Category 1 storm.

Iwa knocked out 8 of Hawaiian Electric Company’s 14 138-KV transmission lines and blacked out 95 percent of HECO’s customers, some for two weeks or more. So we’re cautioned to stay aware of this approaching storm. It could cause treacherous flooding on all islands and bring winds strong enough to….well, we really don’t know, do we?

Back in January, the threat of strong winds was enough for schools and government offices to close all over the state. “Overblown” was the reaction of many to the near panic that preceded the non-storm's arrival. (That was pretty much the take at our sister blog, Citizens Helping Officials Respond to Emergencies.)

We’ll just have to wait and see how Felicia blows through....and stock up on supplies, just in case.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Is Your Island Remote and Overwhelmingly Reliant On Imported Fuel? OTEC Could Be Your Answer

But first, a word about Hurricane Felicia:
Here's The Weather Channel's take on Felicia:
“TWC's hurricane expert, Dr. Steve Lyons is watching the forecast models and feels that Hurricane Felicia will weaken dramatically as it moves near Hawaii in the next 5 days, but urges all to continue to monitor the latest updates and forecasts through the weekend.”

Renewable Energy World dot com published part 2 of its three-part series on ocean thermal energy conversion today, and it comes like a breath of fresh air after what seems like a long quiet period about the technology. It’s written by freelance science journalist Mason Inman, who somewhat curiously is based in Karachi, Pakistan.

The pro-ocean power arguments flow one after the other, with an emphasis today on the applicability of OTEC for isolated islands with few if any energy resources.

Ron Baird, chief executive officer of the National Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA), says OTEC is ideal for remote locations like Hawaii. The Authority has issued a request for proposals to build a 1-megawatt “OTEC scale-up" plant. Says Baird:

“Hawaii’s electricity price is 44 cents per kilowatthour — the highest in the U.S., and probably one of the highest electricity costs in the world."

A 1-MW OTEC plant could cut that cost in half, Baird says.

The last part of the series will describe other OTEC benefits, according to the website. Stay tuned – and if you’re an OTEC advocate, pass it on.

Monday, August 3, 2009

‘Orphan’ OTEC Touted Anew as Biggest Source of Energy – Enough Juice To Power the Entire Planet

Where do you start with the online article from Renewable Energy World dot com? How about this:

Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) “could sustainably produce more electricity than the whole world consumes today.”

We won’t even quibble with the lack of a time reference in Part 1 of a three-part series about OTEC. Are they talking annually, monthly, weekly, daily? Who cares? The assertion stands by itself as an attention-getter with global implications.

Oh, sure….there are the usual qualifiers. OTEC still has to prove itself, blah blah blah. Tell us something new, why don’t they? (See our very first post here for some enthusiastic OTEC boosting.)

As Gérard Nihous of the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute says in this article, “The principle is elementary, but the practical application is a headache.” Yes, the old practical application angle must be honored.

A Matter of National Security

Nihous and OTEC promoter Hans Krock will be guests on a future Energy Futures program on Hawaii Public Radio – date to be determined – and will detail all of these issues in our hour-long discussion. Check in with our sister blog about the program for updates on future shows, as well as what we’re discussing here and now.

For now, we’re energized by this three-part series on OTEC, which moves on to a review of pilot OTEC installations in Part 2– maybe Tuesday. Whenever, bring it on. We’re true believers out here in oil-dependent Hawaii, future OTEC capital of the Northern Hemisphere.

C’mon Department of Defense: Turn loose your purse strings and fund the first OTEC pilot plant here in the name of national security!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Future of Geothermal Energy in Hawaii’s Mix

Our Energy Futures program on Hawaii Public Radio on Monday will continue the discussion geothermal energy that began on the most recent show.

As we heard on July 27, some Native Hawaiians strongly object to using the volcano’s underground heat to generate electricity because, in their view, it degrades the power of their deity – the volcano goddess Pele.

The guests on Monday’s show will be State Senator Kalani English, vice chair of the Energy and Environment Committee, and Puna Geothermal Energy plant manager Michael Kaleikini (left and right in graphic). Both have Hawaiian heritage and will share their perspectives on the quiet debate on geothermal energy’s future.

The issue was far from quiet in the 1990s, when the proposed geothermal development in the Wao Kele O Puna rainforest on the Big Island was met with determined opposition that eventually ended that possibility.

The Puna Geothermal Venture plant has been providing about 30 megawatts of power to the island’s grid for nearly 16 years. Will that contribution increase or has geothermal energy reached an early peak that will never been exceeded?

That’s one of the issues we’ll explore with English and Kaleikini on Energy Futures, Monday at 5 pm HST (11 pm EDT) on KIPO-FM – 89.3 in Hawaii and streamed on the Internet.