Energy in Hawaii

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Hawi wind farm near Hāwī, Hawai'i, the Big Island. The wind farm has 16 Vestas V47-660 kW wind turbines for a total nameplate capacity of 10.56 MW.

Energy production in Hawaii is a difficult issue due to the islands' isolated location and lack of local resources. The state relies heavily on imports of petroleum and coal for power although recent initiatives have increased use of alternative resources. High levels of solar photovoltaic and wind power use have led to power balance issues which have made Hawaii a study case for renewable use. Commercial-scale batteries and upgraded grid resources and management are among the solutions being advanced.

Hawaii has the most expensive electricity prices in the United States. In 2016 the average cost of electricity was $0.24 per kilowatt-hour, with the next highest state being Alaska at $0.19. The U.S. average was $0.10 per kilowatt-hour across all sectors.[1]


In 2008 Hawaii's primary energy consumption by source was:

  • 85.0% petroleum, down from 99.7% in 1960
  • 7.1% coal
  • 0.1% natural gas
  • 7.8% renewable energy

In 2008, sources of renewable power were:

Renewable sources provided 10.5% of total electric power in 2010.[2] Hawaii ranked third among U.S. states in geothermal energy and seventh in distributed solar power.[3][4]

A project by Hawaii Gas would bring liquefied natural gas in container-sized loads in 2015 and by ship-loads by 2019.[5] This gas would be used for Hawaii Gas's synthetic natural gas operation and could also be used for electrical generation.

Global warming and renewable energy[edit]


Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle has approved a number of energy-related bills to address climate change and promote local renewable energy production. The governor's energy bill-signing streak started in late April 2008 with the approval of House Bill 2502, which allows solar energy facilities to be located on less-productive agricultural lands, followed in late May by the approval of HB 3179, which makes it easier for biofuel producers to lease state lands. In the same time frame, the governor approved SB 2034, SB 3190, and HB 2168, which authorize special purpose revenue bonds to help finance a 2.7-megawatt wave energy facility off the coast of Maui, a solar energy facility on Oahu, and hydrogen generation and conversion facilities at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, located on the island of Hawaii.

Senate Bill 644, approved on June 26, 2008 prohibits the issuing of building permits for new homes without solar water heaters as of 2010. The bill excludes homes located in areas with poor solar energy resources, homes using other renewable energy sources, and homes employing on-demand gas-fired water heaters. The bill also eliminates solar thermal energy tax credits for those homes.

On June 6, 2008 the governor approved SB 988, which allows the Hawaii Public Utility Commission to establish a rebate for solar photovoltaic electric systems, and HB 2550, which encourages net metering for residential and small commercial customers.

On July 1, 2008 the governor approved the final three energy bills, including HB 2863, which provides streamlined permitting for new renewable energy facilities of at least 200 megawatts in capacity. HB 2505 creates a full-time renewable energy facilitator to help the state expedite those permits, while a third bill, HB 2261, will provide loans of up to $1.5 million and up to 85% of the cost of renewable energy projects at farms and aquaculture facilities.

Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative[edit]

On January 28, 2008, the State of Hawaii and the US Department of Energy signed a memorandum of understanding [6] and announced the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, which has a goal to use renewable resources such as wind, sun, ocean, geothermal, and bioenergy to supply 70 percent or more of Hawaii's energy needs by 2030 and to reduce the state's dependence on imported oil.[7][8]

The Initiative's 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 percent use of renewable energy on smaller islands, designing systems to improve stability of electrical grids operating with variable generating sources, such as wind power plants on the Island of Hawaii and Maui, and expanding Hawaii's capability to use locally grown crops as byproducts for producing fuel and electricity.[9]

Partners include United States Department of Energy - EERE, the state of Hawaii, Hawaiian Electric Company, Phoenix Motorcars and Better Place.

Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority[edit]

The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority is a test site for experimental renewable energy generation methods and pilot plants for them. Originally built to test Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), it later added research into other sustainable uses of natural energy sources such as aquaculture, biofuel from algae, solar thermal energy, concentrating solar and wind power.


A transition from fossil fuel vehicles to electric vehicles would enable Hawaii's transportation needs to be fueled with electricity generated from renewable energy and with biofuels.[10][11]

Ethanol fuel in Hawaii[edit]

The production of ethanol fuel in Hawaii based on fallow sugar cane fields and algae has been proposed but the efforts have not been successful due to the volatile prices of both oil and ethanol. The state requires 10% ethanol (E10) in automotive fuel.

Solar power[edit]

Solar power in Hawaii grew quickly as photovoltaic panel prices dropped putting household energy generation below the cost of purchased electricity. In 2013, Hawaii was second only to Arizona in per capita solar power.[12] In 2013, about 10% of Oahu customers had solar panels. Several utility scale solar farms exist along with distributed household generation. Solar water heaters have long been a common appliance with a 2010 law requiring them in new construction.[13]

The island of Kauai has an abundance of solar energy but it can currently only be used when the sun is shining. In the future, batteries will will store solar energy produced during the day and deliver it to the grid during the evening hours to reduce the amount of fossil fuels needed to meet energy demand.

Wind power[edit]

Hawaii was a pioneer in the development of wind power. Wind power in Hawaii provided 5% of total electricity. Battery-linked wind farms have been built to smooth electrical production.


Hawaii has several biomass electric plants included the 10MW Honolulu International Airport Emergency Power Facility, the 6.7MW Green Energy Agricultural Biomass-to-Energy Facility on Kauai, and the 6.6MW waste-to-energy Honua Power Project on Oahu. The 21.5 MW Hu Honua plant is expected to be online in 2016.[14] Wärtsilä is selling a 50MW system to Hawaii Electric to be installed at Schofield Barracks Army Base on Oahu by 2017. The plant can run on a variety of solid or gas fuels including biomass.[15]

Coal phase out[edit]

Hawaii has banned new coal plants[16] beyond the only operating coal-fired power plant in the state, AES Hawaii Power Plant.[17]

Wave power[edit]

The U.S. Navy and the University of Hawaii operate a Wave Energy Test Site in Kaneohe Bay.[18]

Algae fuel[edit]

Main article: Algae fuel

Cellana produces oil from algae at a 2.5 hectares (6.2 acres) research site at Kailua-Kona on the island of Hawaii. Microalgae have significant potential as an energy crop, with the levels of oil production per acre potentially far exceeding the levels found in vegetable oil crops. Cellana (previously called HR BioPetroleum) worked with Royal Dutch Shell on a pilot facility to grow algae on land leased from the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, which is located on the west shore of the island of Hawaii.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Energy Information Administration. Electric Power Monthly, Table 5.6.A. Average Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers by End-Use Sector by State, October 2016 and 2015, December 23, 2016.
  2. ^
  3. ^ State of States 2009 analysis, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  4. ^ Electricity Generation from Renewable Energy in Hawaii, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy
  5. ^ Hawaii Gas moves forward with plans to begin bulk shipment of LNG to Hawaii, Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business News, Feb 3, 2015
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-27. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Electric Vehicles | Honolulu Clean Cities". Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  11. ^ Watson, Sterling. "A Fifteen Year Roadmap toward Complete Energy Sustainability - Hawaii as an example". Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  12. ^ Top 10 Solar Energy States Per Capita (US),, September 3rd, 2014
  13. ^ Homebuilders skirt solar law More than 20% of new homes use loophole to avoid adding solar, Honolulu Star Advertiser, Alan Yonan Jr., Jan 09, 2011
  14. ^ Work resumes at Hu Honua; CEO: ‘We are now fully back on site’, West Hawaii Today, January 15, 2015
  15. ^ Wartsila to provide 50 MW plant to bioenergy project in Hawaii, Biomass Magazine, Erin Voegele, December 02, 2014
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 27, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2006" (Excel). Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy. 2006. Retrieved 2008-07-14.