Hawaii’s Clean Energy Initiative

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle have established the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, a long-term partnership designed to accelerate the transformation of Hawaii into one of the world’s first economies based primarily on clean energy resources.

The goal of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative is to use renewable resources — such as wind, sun, ocean, geothermal, and bioenergy — to meet the 70% goal. The result, the governor’s office said in its news release, will increase the state’s energy independence and help bring more price stability to Hawaii consumers.

Unlike states within the contiguous U.S., Hawaii generates the vast majority — over 80% — of its electricity with oil because it is much more easily shipped than other fossil fuels (e.g., natural gas and coal). Generating power with renewables, therefore, directly displaces foreign oil imports, a fact not lost on the governor.

“This innovative, unprecedented partnership builds on the progress the state has made to increase energy independence by decreasing Hawaii’s reliance on imported oil,” said Lingle, who previewed the agreement last week in her State of the State Address. “Our islands’ abundant natural sources of energy, combined with the considerable capabilities of the Department of Energy, will help Hawaii lead America in utilizing clean, renewable energy technologies.”

The partnership will provide technical assistance and technology program support for a variety of innovative projects that draw on technologies developed through a range of DOE research and development programs.

“With an abundance of natural resources and environmental treasures, Hawaii is the ideal location to showcase the broad benefits of renewable energy at work on an unprecedented scale,” said Andy Karsner, DOE’s assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy. ” Hawaii’s success will serve as an integrated model and demonstration test bed for the United States and other island communities globally, many of which are just beginning the transition to a clean energy economy.”

Under the program, efforts will focus on working with public and private partners on several clean energy projects throughout the state including

  • designing cost-effective approaches for 100% use of renewable energy on smaller islands,

  • designing systems to improve stability of electrical grids operating with variable generating sources such as wind power facilities on Maui and the island of Hawaii,

  • integrating renewable energy, including solar, wind, energy storage and advanced vehicle technologies into existing systems to meet the islands’ energy needs,

  • minimizing energy use while maximizing energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies at new large military housing developments,

  • expanding Hawaii’s capability to use locally grown crops as byproducts for producing fuel and electricity, and

  • developing comprehensive energy regulatory and policy frameworks to promote clean energy technology use.

The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative will also tap the expertise of other federal agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Defense, national research laboratories, and research and development entities, as well as the private sector.

This article first appeared in Wind Energy Weekly, and was republished with permission from the American Wind Energy Association.

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Carl is Editor & Publications Manager at the American Wind Energy Association, where has worked since 2006. At AWEA he oversees AWEA's online and print publications including the Wind Energy Weekly, Windpower Update, and other products. He has worked as a journalist in the energy industry as a staff writer for Public Utilities Fortnightly magazine and in the association sector as senior editor at Association Management magazine. He also has covered the home-building industry, where his areas of greatest interest were sustainable development and "smart growth," and has written articles for numerous other publications as a freelance writer. Carl received his B.A. from James Madison University and spent some time in New Orleans teaching as well as working with homeless youth.

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