Saturday, April 3, 2010

Biofuel Conference at MCBH Kicks Off Major DoD Interest in Hawaii

Thanks be to those of you who’ve continued to visit this site for the past couple weeks while our attention was fully, completely and unequivocally diverted elsewhere. We even let the 2nd anniversary of our first post on this website pass without mention, which is probably a good indicator of how hectic life has been recently.

But we’re back, and there’s quite a bit to be enthused about, starting with front-page news this morning about the industry forum to be held at Marine Corps Base Hawaii next week sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Navy. The nation’s most dependent state on imported energy will “play key role in biofuel use,” according to the print edition's headline. (The Air Force photo shows an A-10C Thunderbolt II on a recent test flight using a 50/50 blend of biofuel.)

Registration was to have been completed more than a week ago, but we’ve taken a shot at attending and hope to be among the observers and participants next week.

Hawaiian Electric’s RFP

We suspect it’s no coincidence that Hawaiian Electric Company has just issued a request for proposals to provide locally grown biofuels for a new plant built at Campbell Industrial Park on Oahu, as well as its other generation plants that could be modified to burn biofuels.

We sat in on a meeting with a senior HECO official recently and heard about the potential for biofuel to be mixed with oil in firing the company’s Kahe power plant on the leeward coast. Tests will be conducted to determine whether and how much power output might be degraded with a biofuel mixture burned in a converted generation unit.

The Kahe plant is Oahu’s largest electricity generation site and therefore, we’ve always thought, the largest hurdle to overcome in making significant cuts in the amount of oil imported for that use. Converting the plant to burn a large percentage of biofuel would be a major advancement in getting off oil.

There’s sure to be a fair amount of buzz at next week’s forum about this prospect.

1 comment:

prh said...

Any algae to biofuel plant on leeward Oahu would be immeasurably enhanced by the presence of the proposed OTEC plant off Kahe Point. Detractors of algae biofuel are quick to point out that costs of fertilizer and CO2 are negatives. DSW from an OTEC plant would provide relatively sterile water with a good nutrient profile and high CO2 content nearly ideal for growing microalgae with no additional cost. Construction of the OTEC plant needs to be expidited to benefit from the enhanced "industrial ecology" of OTEC.