Harnessing powerful trade winds will help Hawaii?s green energy revolution By Chris Rose

When tourists are planning a holiday in Hawaii they inevitably think of beautiful Pacific beaches kissed by year-round sunshine and surrounded by stunning arrays of magnificent tropical flowers. Local residents know a darker side of the state, however, one that involves being dependent on expensive, polluting, imported oil to supply about 90% of Hawaii’s energy.

As a result of being the most oil-dependent state in the US — reportedly four times more dependent than any of the other 49 states — Hawaii has embraced an exciting energy revolution that includes emissions-free wind power to help transform the way it meets its existing, and future, energy needs.

The state has set a goal of 70% clean energy through energy efficiency and renewable energies by 2030. Hawaii’s Clean Energy Initiative is already working to harness the state’s strong trade winds along with other renewable energies.

“Wind energy is plentiful on Hawaii’s islands,” notes the initiative web site. “In the past, ancient Hawaiians depended on the trade winds to sail their canoes. And for the people of Hawaii today, the wind holds tremendous potential as a clean, renewable energy source.”

The web site also says Hawaiian wind farms are already supplying green electricity to consumers on Maui and the Big Island, and plans are under way to install wind turbines on Lanai, Molokai, and Oahu.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has already published a map showing that Hawaii has wind resources consistent with utility-scale production. “Good-to-excellent wind resource areas are fairly evenly distributed throughout the islands,” the web site says the DOE map indicates.

As a way of achieving its green energy goals, the web site says Hawaii is now discussing building an undersea cable system to transmit electricity between Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, and possibly Maui in order to increase access to wind power and other renewable energy projects statewide, which could lead to consumer and business cost savings.


About the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative

The Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative is charting a new path toward an energy-independent future for Hawai‘i. Today, imported oil supplies 90% of Hawai‘i’s energy. Our dependence on oil threatens our most precious resources—the land, air, and water that sustain us. And it places our economic security at risk. Simply stated, our current way of meeting our energy needs is not sustainable. We must alter our course.

A partnership between the state of Hawai‘i and the U.S. Department of Energy launched in 2008, the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative is bringing together business leaders, policy makers, and concerned citizens committed to leading Hawai‘i to energy independence.

Goals and Objectives

The goal of the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative is to meet 70% of our energy needs by 2030 through energy efficiency and renewable energy. We are focused on two primary objectives as we move toward our goal of energy independence for Hawai‘i.
Conserve: Use What We Need Efficiently

* Commit to a more energy-efficient lifestyle in our homes and on the road.
* Establish energy-efficient building codes and lower our energy use at work and in our schools.

Convert: Harness What We Have Wisely

* Stop building fossil fuel plants.
* Generate 40% of our energy locally by 2030.
* Harness energy from solar, wind, ocean, geothermal, and biomass resources.
* Establish a sustainable alternative-fuel strategy.
* Embrace hybrid and electric vehicles.
* Modernize our power-grid system.

By collaborating with thought leaders and committed groups and individuals, we will build upon the dynamic, ongoing work of public and private organizations at the national, state, county, and grassroots levels to achieve the following key objectives:

*Define the new infrastructure needed to move Hawai‘i to a clean energy economy.
*Foster and demonstrate innovation in the use of clean energy technologies, creative financing, and public policy to accelerate our transition to clean energy.
*Create economic opportunity at all levels of society by developing and diversifying Hawai‘i’s economy so all of us reap the benefits of a sustainable energy policy.
*Establish an "open source" learning model that supports other island communities seeking to achieve similar goals and makes Hawai‘i a world model for clean energy-based economies.
*Build our workforce with new skills that will form the foundation of an energy-independent Hawai‘i.


The Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative is focused on three priorities that are critical to achieving our goal of 70% clean energy by 2030:

* Transforming the regulatory environment to facilitate clean energy development
* Collaborating with island utility companies to increase renewable energy generation
* Integrating renewable energy into utility grids.


The Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative will

* Strengthen our economy
* Increase our energy security
* Reduce our carbon footprint
* Create a cleaner, more sustainable environment for future generations
* Make Hawai‘i a world model for energy independence.


By Chris Rose, blog.ewea.org/