Video: Hawaii – Transforming Energy in a Generation

Most of the world’s developed islands are heavily dependent on fuel imports. The islands of Hawaii are certainly no exception and currently depend on imported fossil fuels — mostly oil — to deliver 90 percent of the electric power and virtually all the transport fuel consumed in the state. It’s costing Hawaii nearly US $7 billion a year, 11 percent of its GDP and as a consequence, Hawaiian residents pay among the highest prices in the U.S. for fuel.

But the state has a vision — and a plan — to change that and transform itself into a world model for clean and independent energy “within a generation.”

The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative was launched in 2008 as a partnership between the State of Hawaii and the U.S. Department of Energy. Its goal is to have renewable sources provide at least 70 percent of the Hawaii’s energy needs by 2030 and it also includes a large energy efficiency component.

The initiative is building on good foundations — Hawaii already has a considerable amount of renewables in place. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, Hawaii ranks third in the nation (after Maine and California) in use of renewable energy relative to the state’s total electricity production.

Renewable Energy World magazine had a chance to speak with three Hawaii representatives about how they see the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative rolling out and the benefits it will bring. The representatives explained Hawaii’s existing renewables, the abundant renewable energy resource that the island is blessed with, energy independence, the importance of island interconnectors, low-carbon transport and opportunities for businesses to bring their technologies to Hawaii.

Some key Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative goals and projects are outlined below:

  • Local utility (HECO) commitment to purchase as much as 1100 megawatts of renewable energy already identified

  • Construction of an undersea transmission cable to connect Molokai, Lanai and Maui with the Oahu grid

  • 70 percent clean energy by 2030

  • Double the Renewable Portfolio Standard to 40 percent by 2030

  • Establish a feed-in tariff for renewables generators

  • Retire older, dirty generation plants as Hawaii moves into a renewable future

  • Prohibit any new coal plants in Hawaii

  • Convert existing generators to biofuel 

To see the interviews, play the video below.

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