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Powering Up: Energy in Hawaii

A Special Report from the State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT)

(page 3 of 9)

By the Numbers:

775 Plug-in electric vehicles on Hawai‘i roads.

200 megawatts
Size of the largest wind farms proposed for Hawai‘i.

23 *Solar systems installed for every 1,000 customers in Hawaiian Electric Co.’s service territory.

* HECO had the fourth highest ranking among the nation’s top utilities for cumulative solar systems installed, according to the Solar Electric Power Association.

10¢ Average cost per mile to operate a Nissan Leaf. Average cost to operate a gasoline-powered car in Hawai‘i is about 20 cents per mile.

385,000,000 Gallons of gasoline (and other ground transportation fuels) that the state wants to displace by 2030.

 

Photo: Olivier Koning

Now is Not the Time to Relax

During the past two years, Hawai‘i’s clean energy sector has leapfrogged over other states when it comes to the development of its clean energy industry. Hawai‘i is third in the nation when it comes to clean tech job growth, second in the U.S. for installed photovoltaic capacity per capita, and first when it comes to performance contracting and availability for electric vehicle charging stations. But Richard Lim, director of the state Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism, believes that this is no time to be complacent.

Q: The state is poised to meet many of its near-term renewable energy goals, but what challenges does the state face in meeting its longer term goal of becoming 70 percent energy independent by 2030?

Hawai‘i currently generates about 12 percent of its energy from renewablesources such as wind, solar, geothermal and biofuels, and is well on its way toward reaching its renewable portfolio standard goal of 15 percent by 2015.  

By hitting this key benchmark, we’ve made a lot of progress toward protecting Hawai‘i’s environment and bolstering our energy security. Clean energy has now become a major driver in Hawai‘i’s economy.

But Hawai‘i’s clean energy agenda faces substantial challenges over the long-term. In the year 2020, the state’s RPS goal will leap to 25 percent, or more than double the existing level.

To meet this mid-term goal, Hawai‘i must promote the most diverse array of large-scale renewable energy projects—wind, solar, geothermal, biofuels and even ocean technologies—to meet this 25 percent goal.

We don’t have the luxury of relying on just one industry. We need to be agnostic toward renewable energy sources and need to support the ones that have the greatest probability of success and will generate the most economic activity. We need them all.

Q: Where does the undersea cable fit into this?

An undersea cable provides the necessary link between O‘ahu, where demand is greatest, and the neighbor islands, where most of the renewable sources are located.

Of the 75 largest renewable projects around the state, more than half are located on Maui, the Big Island and Kaua‘i. By contrast, all three neighbor islands combined account for about only a third of O‘ahu’s electricity demand.

Connecting the islands to a single integrated grid will allow us to harvest Hawai‘i’s rich portfolio of renewable resources, and is the only means to achieve our clean energy goal.

Hawaii Business magazine invites you to comment on our articles and the issues they raise. Comments are moderated for offensive language, commercial messages and off-topic posts and may be deleted. Some comments may be chosen for inclusion in the magazine on the Feedback page.

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