Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hawaii’s ‘Tsunami of Isolation’ Dictates Innovation

A long holiday weekend with plenty of writing time helps break the silence here at Hawaii Energy Options. Frankly, we’ve been giving the Big Wind Soap Opera a rest until the producers have settled on a permanent cast and the characters are either married off or poisoned out of the script. New plot developments might test our resolve, however.

No such writing drought has affected Pat Takahasi, the innovative thinker and chief advocate of the Blue Revolution. Pat is a staunch supporter of breakthrough energy solutions, with ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) at the top of the list.

One of Pat’s contributions to Huffington Post earlier this year noted that the earth’s surface is two and one-times more water than land, yet “almost never is the ocean recognized as part of the (energy) solution.”

Pat recently wrote about Japan’s energy crisis that became apparent thanks to the March tsunami and crippling of the country’s nuclear energy industry – not just one plant but the whole concept in that nation.

“Suddenly, the Great Tohoku Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Disaster has thrust the Blue Revolution as the optimal solution for Japan’s future,” he wrote a week ago today at his Blue Revolution Hawaii blog.

Hawaii’s Energy ‘Tsunami’

Unlike hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis that cannot be ignored, Hawaii’s energy crisis has been a decades-long slice of life for island residents. Our state’s isolation requires energy lifelines thousands of miles long to meet our needs. This dependence is like a nagging discomfort in the body that one day becomes a catastrophic illness; we’re vaguely aware of the problem and maybe take an aspirin to relieve the minor pain, but we go about our business without doing much of anything to address the real problem.

The public-private push behind Big Wind strikes us as a misstep that's likely to delay real progress in addressing our energy tsunami – a head-long rush to develop an intermittent power source that can’t possibly provide the long-term energy security Hawaii requires. A comparable effort behind OTEC would make ocean energy a reality.

The Blue Revolution concept includes plans for a Pacific International Ocean Station (PIOC), an ocean version of the International Space Station. The PIOC would pioneer OTEC and other ocean-based energy and clean water applications.

Innovative thinking, like the Environmental Island concept offered by the Shimizu Corporation (at left), is all around us, yet “official” Hawaii seems oblivious to these concepts. Big Wind advocates have invested their energies in a project that would have tremendous impacts on two of our neighbor islands and do nothing to ensure base-load power delivery to our populations for generations to come.

Pat Takahashi is one of Hawaii’s authentic visionaries and deserves a place at the table in discussions of permanent energy solutions to meet Hawaii’s needs a century from now. Unfortunately, the focus now is on meeting a paper goal to achieve a percentage of renewable energy use by 2030.

Our best suggestion on Memorial Day weekend: Bookmark Pat Takahashi’s various websites and visit them often!

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