NY Times Features Hawaii Renewable Energy Plans

From Edison's Desk Blog: http://www.grcblog.com/?p=434

From Edison's Desk Blog: http://www.grcblog.com/?p=434

From the New York Times:

“Two miles or so from this tiny town in the southernmost corner of the United States, across ranches where cattle herds graze beneath the distant Mauna Loa volcano, the giant turbines of a new wind farm cut through the air…

Sixty miles to the northeast, near a spot where golden-red lava streams meet the sea in clouds of steam, a small power plant extracts heat from the volcanic rock beneath it to generate electricity.

These projects are just a slice of the energy experiment unfolding across Hawaii’s six main islands. With the most diverse array of alternative energy potential of any state in the nation, Hawaii has set out to become a living laboratory for the rest of the country, hoping it can slash its dependence on fossil fuels while keeping the lights on.

Every island has at least one energy accent: waves in Maui, wind in Lanai and Molokai, solar panels in Oahu and eventually, if all goes well, biomass energy from crops grown on Kauai. Here on the Big Island of Hawaii, seawater is also being converted to electricity…

…Each of the state’s six electric grids belongs to its own island and is unconnected to the others. And according to state figures, Hawaii still relies on imported oil to generate 77 percent of its electricity, a level of dependency unique in the United States. Coal-fired power provides 14 percent, and 9 percent comes from renewable sources like the wind or the sun…

…“The goals are very, very aggressive,” said Debra Lew, a senior project leader for the federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Three decades ago, Hawaii mapped out a similar vision, if in less detail, that came to nothing. But this time, planners say, failure is not an option. “We don’t have anywhere else to go,” said Ted Peck, the point man for the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, overseen by the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism

…For all the optimism, planners studiously remind themselves of the detritus of past failures, like the dismembered and rusting wind turbines of a defunct wind farm near the southern end of the Big Island.

“This transformation is going to take a generation,” said Ted Liu, director of the state economic development department. “There are no short-term easy solutions.”

Full Article:  Hawaii Eyes Green Tools in Remaking Power Grids

Wave Power Not Ready for Commercial Use

Technology for tapping ocean waves, tides and rivers for electricity is far from commercial viability and lagging well behind wind, solar and other fledgling power sectors, a panel of experts said last week during a forum here on climate change and marine ecosystems…

…”It’s basically not commercially financeable yet,” said Edwin Feo, a partner at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, during a conference at Stanford University. “They are still a long ways from getting access to the capital and being deployed, because they are simply immature technologies.”

…Roger Bedard, head of the Electric Power Research Institute’s wave power research unit, said the United States is at least five and maybe 10 years away from the first commercial project in marine waters. A buoy at a Marine Corps base in Hawaii is the only wave-powered device that has been connected to the power grid so far in the United States. The first pilot tidal project, in New York’s East River, took five years to get a permit from FERC…

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