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Business Energy Guide 2012

Making the Transition Helping Hawaii's Businesses Become Energy Efficient

By: Sherie Char

(page 2 of 8)

“In 2011 alone, investments in clean energy statewide
reached $1.2 billion, bringing in 11,000 new jobs.”
—Mark Glick, energy administrator, DBEDT

The Importance of Energy Independence

“The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative has generated a great deal of awareness regarding the importance of energy independence for Hawaii,” says energy administrator Mark Glick, of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT). “It has also spurred the growth of an industry that represents billions of dollars to the local economy, and that positions us as a major player in the global business arena.”

Since the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative started in 2008, the first net-zero housing development has opened, PV panels were installed on a state building—saving $300 a month in energy costs—and the first public charging station for electric vehicles in Hawaii has been built.

“We also reduced electric consumption in state government by 2.8 percent from 2009, saving the state more than $20 million in energy costs,” says Abercrombie. “Clean energy is not just a matter of energy security and a means of protecting the environment, it is good for business. It provides a critical boost to our economy by attracting investments from companies around the globe while benefiting local entrepreneurs.”

This has resulted in a boom in new company formation, which has led to the creation of clean energy jobs, making Hawaii third in the nation in clean energy job growth.

“In 2011 alone, investments in clean energy statewide reached $1.2 billion, bringing in 11,000 new jobs,” says Glick. “In terms of year-on-year growth, it is the fastest growing sector in Hawaii.”

Preliminary estimates put investments in clean energy statewide at $1.2 billion in 2011, about twice the amount from the year before. Anecdotally, homegrown ventures like Sopogy are now exporting their technologies to other parts of the world, says Glick. Maui-based Pacific Biodiesel, currently the only commercial biofuel producer in the state, now has 12 facilities on the Mainland and Japan. At the Big Island’s Natural Energy Laboratory (NELHA), Cellana, which harvests algae to create biofuels and other products, has attracted more than $100 million in investment capital and grants.

Right now, DBEDT is tracking project activity from 66 proposed renewable energy projects, says Glick, all of which have the potential to add an additional 500 MW of capacity to Hawaii’s grid. This represents billions of dollars in additional investments.

“Clean energy is not just a matter of energy security
and a means of protecting the environment, it is good
for business.”
 —Neil Abercrombie, governor of Hawaii

“As Gov. Abercrombie said, ‘By working together with our community members, businesses and government agencies, we can solidify Hawaii’s position as an international leader in clean energy,’” says Glick. “From an international perspective, we are branding Hawaii as a test bed for the Asia-Pacific region.”

This has already played well at DBEDT’s recent Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit, and is further evidenced by the number of Asia-Pacific public and private sector groups that are seeking to establish relationships in Hawaii.

When DBEDT held a Hawaii China Energy Forum in conjunction with APEC delegates in 2011, Gov. Abercrombie seized the moment by securing an agreement with the China Council for Promotion of International Trade to pursue clean energy opportunities with the potential to tap into China’s estimated $1.54 trillion green investments planned for the next 15 years.

A week later, Gov. Abercrombie and President Hideo Hato of Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, signed a Memorandum of Agreement to develop a $37 million advanced first-of-its-kind smart grid demonstration project on Maui. The multi-million dollar project is aimed at improving integration of variable renewable resources, such as solar and wind power, and preparing the electric system for widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

“We must pursue these partnerships to grow our renewable energy capacity while cutting our energy demand even further,” says Abercrombie. “Once we have completed our retrofit of state buildings, the next phase of our plan is to retrofit our airports, harbors and highways while continuing to encourage the same efforts by businesses and homeowners.”

Photo: istockphoto.com

Hawaii’s emerging clean energy economy will only grow in 2012, allowing our state to become one step closer to achieving energy independence.

“We are already making progress, but reaching our 2030 goal will help us become more economically stable, by keeping an estimated $6 billion in state that would otherwise go toward foreign oil investments,” notes Glick. “It will also counter-balance our reliance on tourism and the military, adding one more leg for our economy to stand on.”

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