Monday, September 12, 2011

Asia Pacific Energy Summit Convenes This Week as Resistance To Big Wind Builds Steam on Molokai

The third annual Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo kicks off tomorrow, and it takes a couple minutes for the website to cycle through the photographs of more than 200 speakers. They include a governor and ex-governor, utility representatives, legislators, military officials, advocates for solar, wind, geothermal and ocean thermal energy conversion technology, landfill experts, private equity investors, lawyers and many others. There’s at least one misidentification – the current chair of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission is still listed as a state representative – but getting everything right would be a stretch.

Word comes from Molokai as the Summit gets underway that opposition to the Big Wind energy project is growing, and one wonders whether that community-based effort will be noticed by the guests.

According to the Molokai Dispatch, the “I Heart Molokai” group is growing even as wind energy developers pledge their intent to work with the community.

We suspect the opposition will be explained away by Big Wind backers as NIMBYism, but we continue to believe it represents the fork in the road for energy policy makers here.

Go down one fork and you sink billions of dollars into an intermittent wind energy project with huge localized impacts and that can’t possibly pencil out in the short or long term. Go down the other and you sink billions into a baseload technology that holds the promise of releasing Hawaii from oil’s stranglehold.

We’re talking OTEC, of course, and we’ll be watching the Summit for evidence that something other than more endless praise for OTEC comes out of this conference.

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