Tuesday, April 3, 2012

OTEC Receiving Renewed Attention around the World; Big Wind Continues Battling Its Way in the Legislature

SEPTEMBER 2012 UPDATE: As noted in the heading above, we've essentially stopped writing the Hawaii Energy Options blog now that we've moved to Northern California. Hawaii continues to struggle with its renewable energy options, and several of this blog's 2012 posts called attention to the tradeoffs citizens will or won't make to reduce their dependence on foreign oil for their energy needs.

This April 2001 post noted the ongoing fight in the Legislature over Big Wind (cable-transmitted power from the neighbor islands to Oahu). We mention it again because the fight still hasn't been resolved after years of wrangling. (February 2013 update of our September 2012 update: "Molokai Ranch ends wind farm talks with Pattern Energy, Bio-Logical Capital"

Civil Beat had an update (subscription may be necessary to view) on the Big Wind energy project and the state’s emphasis on its importance. Meanwhile, OTEC and other ocean energy technologies continued their drift toward the front burner – or maybe they were still on the back burner, but the intensity level was far above simmer.

Forbes published an article on activities of some of the major players in the drawn-out OTEC development experience, including Lockheed and OTE Corporation, which has an office in Honolulu.

We’re as high on OTEC as ever. It’s just that our OTEC attention span is on simmer and is likely to stay that way as agencies and corporations with the financial ability to back significant OTEC construction still ponder whether they'll ever get around to it. Here's hoping they finally make the commitment that will get Hawaii off oil and out from under its energy storm clouds.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blame It on the Holidays; We Get Back to Business as Legislature Opens Session with Energy a Big Concern

This break has lasted way too long, and we’ve let too many headline-making renewable energy issues go by without comment since our most recent post in early December. Today’s opening of the Hawaii State Legislature’s 2012 session is reason enough to get back at it. (See our Yes2Rail blog to know what we’ve been up to.)

Still big on the state's energy agenda is the Big Wind project slated for Molokai and Lanai. If anything, the opposition has strengthened its hand in the past couple months, continuing to build on its public and media relations campaign with frequent emails and postings to their websites.

The IAlohaMolokai group has its own channel on YouTube now and has posted videos of its PSAs, energy festival, legislators’ visits and other occasions.

Geothermal energy continues to attract interest and spark enthusiasm. Hawaii Electric Light Company said earlier this month it will begin soliciting bids for and additional 50 megawatts of this baseload power.

Just today, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription) reported on the deep cut in the cost to install installation photovoltaic systems in the islands. The decline was attributed to a worldwide overproduction of panels and the increase in local competition among installers and is good news for consumers who’ve been tempted to take the plunge.

As usual, what little enthusiasm we see for ocean thermal energy conversion is self-generated, although a piece in The Economist early this month wrapped up recent developments that include a modest starter plant in the Caribbean. This blog began nearly four years ago in a fit of pique over OTEC’s usual absence from the renewable energy discussion in the islands, but at least it’s no longer virtually out of sight and mind.

Some continue to believe at least a portion of the state’s push on the not-likely Big Wind project should be diverted toward OTEC, and we're one of them. Maybe this will be the year for a breakthrough on OTEC’s presence in the islands – but we’ve said that before.