The Hawaiian Electric companies are required by law to achieve 40 % of electricity sales from renewable resources by 2030. But Hawaiian Electric's commitment is bigger: add as much renewable energy as quickly as possible at prices more stable and lower than the status quo of near total dependence on imported oil.
The companies will soon initiate new requests for proposals (RFPs) for more renewable energy: 1) a total of 500 MW for Oahu; 2) about 50 MW of firm renewable energy for Maui; and 3) up to 50 MW of additional geothermal energy for Hawaii Island.
With wind farms on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island, wind is a large and growing part of Hawaii’s clean energy portfolio. Wind energy is essential to a portfolio of resources to reach and exceed the mandate of 40 % of electricity sales from renewables by 2030.
Hawaii Island has wind farms at South Point and Hawi in North Kohala. Hawaii County Department of Water Supply may reopen a small wind farm at Lalamilo near Waikoloa.
On Maui, Kaheawa Wind above Ma`alaea in the West Maui mountains is expanding. Another wind farm is approved for construction on Ulupalakua Ranch in central Maui.
Oahu’s Kahuku Wind came on line in March 2011. Construction has started for a second, larger, wind farm at Kawailoa above Haleiwa to be completed in 2012.
Castle & Cooke is planning a large wind farm on Lanai, where the winds are very strong with a preliminary agreement on terms to sell power to Hawaiian Electric on Oahu. Hawaiian Electric will issue a request for proposals in 2012 seeking more renewable energy on Oahu or from another island.
Hawaii remains a national leader in both solar thermal and solar photovoltaic energy.
From the mid-1990s, Hawaiian Electric promoted solar water heating so today one in three single-family homes uses it to heat all or most of the water used. Responsibility for promoting solar water heating and including rebates is now with Hawaii Energy, a contractor reporting to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.
For 2010, Hawaiian Electric was again named one of the Top 10 electric utilities for solar power added per customer. (Utility Solar Rankings by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA)).
Of 230 utilities surveyed nationally, Hawaiian Electric ranked third in added solar watts-per-customer (up from eighth in 2009).
In total solar watts per customer, Kauai Island Utility Co-op ranked second again in 2010. Hawaii Electric Light Company is fourth (up from sixth the previous year) and Maui Electric Company is close behind at fifth.
Hawaiian Electric is ninth (up from 12th in 2009) for cumulative solar electric power per customer.
The Interstate Renewable Energy Council ranks Hawaii second in both total solar watts and 2010 solar watts installed per person.
In July 2011, Hawaiian Electric Company achieved 20 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) projects using net energy metering on Oahu. With Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light, the three utilities had 76 MW of customer-sited PV on their grids at the end of 2011.
In 2011, the Hawaiian Electric companies added a Feed-in Tariff with a standardized contract and pricing to make it easier for customers to sell renewable energy to the utility. Three tiers make it possible for sizes up to 5 MW to take advantage of the tariff.
The first utility-scale photovoltaic facility in Hawaii is the 1.2 MW La Ola project on Lanai. On Oahu, the Public Utilities Commission approved two solar facilities in 2011 and another in early 2012. Additional photovoltaic projects are in negotiation.
2011 was another banner year for solar power in Hawaii. Total PV installed grew by more than 100% over 2010. The trend should continue in 2012, driven by high electricity prices, more competition by solar vendors and a growing commitment by Hawaii residents
Biofuel, a sustainable resource, can be produced from plants that contain vegetable oils, including soy, jatropha, various grasses, kukui and coconut, from algae or animal fat and waste restaurant grease.
Hawaiian Electric is pursuing biofuels is not only to reduce use of imported fossil fuel and carbon emissions that cause global climate change. Promoting an agricultural energy industry will protect Hawaii’s open space, boost local agriculture, create jobs, and keep more of Hawaii’s energy spending at home. Many agree that promoting energy agriculture also encourages food agriculture.
Recent biofuel progress in Hawaii includes:
Campbell Industrial Park generating station is in full operation, fueled by biodiesel. At present, biodiesel is supplied by an Iowa-based company using waste animal fats and restaurant grease with delivery to Oahu in containers by ship.
Construction has begun on the Honolulu International Airport Emergency Generating Facility. Maui-based Pacific Biodiesel, which produces biodiesel mostly from restaurant grease, will supply local biodiesel to the airport facility scheduled to be competed in 2012.
Bio-crude (minimally processed biofuel) was successfully tested in a steam generator at Kahe Power Plant. The tests started with a blend of 30% bio-crude/70% low-sulfur fuel oil, gradually progressing until the unit was run at full capacity using 100% bio-crude. This is the first known instance of this accomplishment.
On Maui, biodiesel was successfully tested in 2011 at Ma`alaea Power Plant. Maui Electric uses biodiesel today for short times during unit shut-down and start-up. The 2011 test provided information on long-term biodiesel use.
In April 2010, Hawaiian Electric companies began a search for a long-term supply of biofuels produced and processed within the state for generation on Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii Island. Proposals may use land or water-based crops, animal fat or yellow grease originating in Hawaii and converted to liquid biofuel. Each growing, production and processing method for supplying biofuels to Hawaiian Electric companies must meet all environmental standards and federal, state and county requirements. For an update on biofuel contracts, click here.
Biodiesel is also used in the diesel truck fleets at Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light Company.
In June 2011, Hawaii Electric Light Company sought input to determine the best way to pursue additional geothermal power on Hawaii Island. Puna Geothermal Venture now supplies 38 MW of firm renewable electricity to Hawaii Island, following 2011 PUC approval of a contract for an added 8 MW.
In the request for information (RFI), Hawaii Electric Light Company sought responses from stakeholders including potential geothermal developers and interested landowners, on how to meet renewable energy goals while respecting Hawaii’s unique community, cultural, historical, and environmental concerns.
About 20 responses were received. Based on that, Hawaii Electric Light Company will request for proposals in 2012 for about 50 MW of geothermal power.
In late 2009, construction began on the H-POWER Expansion Project to add a third boiler and another turbine to the waste-to-energy facility operated by Covanta Energy Corp. Hawaiian Electric is negotiating on a new contract with the City & County of Honolulu. The expansion will increase the garbage processed and expand the capacity from 46 MW to 72 MW.
In 2011, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission approved Honua Power’s plan to provide Hawaiian Electric with renewable energy from a 6.6 MW biomass gasification plant to be built at Campbell Industrial Park. Honua Power will generate high-quality synthesis gas (or syngas) from construction and demolition debris, green waste, agricultural biomass, scrap tires, and non-recyclable paper and plastics. The renewable energy will be sold to Hawaiian Electric. It is planned to be in service in 2013.
Hu Honua Bioenergy plans to build a facility to burn biomass to power a 24 MW renewable energy facility on a 26-acre site in Pepeekeo, Hawaii Island, refurbishing the former Hilo Coast Power Company plant. Hu Honua has negotiated a purchase power agreement to sell energy to Hawaii Electric Light Company, pending Public Utilities Commission approval. Hu Honua's goal is to be in service by December 2013.
The feedstock of choice is eucalyptus growing in abundance on the Hamakua coast. It does not require intensive replanting as it regenerates from stumps. Developers say the facility can use the whole tree or the co-product left after logs are harvested for other uses, thus enhancing the local timber industry. The company is also working with University of Hawaii researchers to find appropriate alternative feedstocks.
Once in operation, the company estimates the facility will eliminate 250,000 barrels of imported oil per year and provide renewable electricity equivalent to that needed to power 14,000 homes.
The ocean is the largest energy storehouse on the planet, capturing the sun’s rays and creating kinetic energy as winds create waves, currents and tides. The Hawaiian Electric companies have monitored ocean energy technologies for decades and plans to add this resource to the renewable energy portfolio.
In February 2008, Australia-based Oceanlinx Ltd. announced plans to provide electricity to Maui Electric Company from Hawaii’s first wave energy project. The plan is to generate up to 500 kw from a stationary platform 1,000 to 2,000 feet off shore near Kuiaha Bay in northeast Maui. Plans now are to be operational by mid-2014. Oceanlinx will prepare an environmental impact statement for the project and apply for necessary permits and approvals.
Hawaiian Electric is negotiating a power purchase agreement with OTEC International which is planning a 100 MW ocean thermal energy conversion plant off the Leeward coast of Oahu near Kahe Power Plant.
Hawaii’s Energy Future
To learn about Hawaiian Electric Company’s commitment and plans for renewable energy visit Hawaii's Energy Future.
There you can learn about the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, the Hawaiian Electric Company-Natural Resources Defense Council’s Sustainable Biofuels Procurement Policy, the Ocean Energy Development Guidelines to encourage ocean energy developers to begin projects here and more. You can also comment or ask questions about Hawaii’s clean energy future.