Hawaii Says Aloha Renewable Energy Goodbye Foreign Oil Dependency
Hawaiian residents definitely live in one of the most beautiful and breathtaking places in the United States. There are amazing volcanos, beaches, waterfalls, and lush greenery. For so many free things nature has to offer, there is definitely a price to pay to live in this paradise. Being the only state that is completely surrounded by water, Hawaii must get 90% of its energy from foreign oil. That’s over 4billion dollars a year on imported oil. That is the highest in the country. Spread out over 8 main islands, it also makes it one of the most vulnerable states in terms of an energy emergency.
Why Hawaii is Taking Action
Hawaiian citizens and policy makers know that it has the upper hand in its venture to break free of foreign oil dependency. Having an ideal geographic location with favorable resources could potentially make them 100% self-sufficient. For instance, up to 80% of the products they consume are imported so when oil prices rise, so does the price to import these goods. The main industry is tourism so when oil prices rise, so does travel prices. This can hurt their economy. They are willing to invest in themselves and they believe the time is now. By doing nothing, oil prices dictate every aspect of their lives.
How it got started
In 2008 the State of Hawaii and the U.S. Dept. of Energy joined together to form the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. It is one of the most ambitious programs to implement clean energy that the U.S. has ever seen. Numerous groups have come together to contribute to this effort. It includes everyone from business leaders, policy makers, to citizens.
What are the Goals?
They want to evaluate their current inefficiencies and improve on those. To reduce wasted energy by up to 30%.
Convert to electric and hybrid vehicles.
To have 70% clean energy by 2030.
Generate energy from available sources such as wind, sun, geothermal, hydroelectric, and biomass.
Invest in future education and retraining of current employees.
Reduce greenhouse gases.
Eliminate foreign oil dependency.
How Hawaii is Harnessing Their Natural Resources
1. Wind from the ocean breezes is being converted to energy. Power companies on Maui and the Big Island have already begun providing this energy to customers.
2. The ocean is being used to create thermal energy or OTEC, Tidal Power, and Wave Power.
3. The sun’s energy is being used for solar panels.
4. Biomass (plants or plant derived material) energy is also being implemented. The main sources of biomass in Hawaii are from the methane gas in landfills, sugarcane, agricultural waste from nuts and melons, or used vegetable oil.
How they are implementing the plans
Mark Glick is the new State Energy Chief and he reports that at least 66 renewable energy projects are in the works. It is reported that the Marine base is doing much of the research projects which include ocean wave energy with buoys and also testing a fleet of electric/bio-diesel vehicles. Several large companies have also signed on to help Hawaii such as Mitsubishi and Pacific Bioenergy. Others joining the cause include Big Island Biodiesel and Green Energy Hawaii.
State and Government Incentives
Hawaiians are using 500 million gallons of gasoline per year. In order to get this down to the goal of 150 million gallons per year The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism is offering some monetary incentives in the form of grants, rebates, subsidies, loans and other programs.
Consumers buying EV/Plug in Hybrids will get a state rebate of $4,500 for the car and an additional $500 to purchase a charger and have it installed. Also with this purchase comes the privilege to drive in the car-pool lane and get free parking at meters and government parking lots.
Grants are being offered at Hawaiian universities and community colleges to train students for the new clean energy workforce.
Although Hawaii was the last to join the United States, it seems they are going to be the first to prove that it is possible to create a sustainable way of life using renewable resources. It may take some trial and error but that is a challenge they are willing to accept. If they reach their projected goal by 2030 they will be the most energy efficient state.