Jump to content

Energy in Hawaii

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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 in the U.S. state of Hawaii is produced from a mixture of fossil fuel and renewable resources. Producing energy is complicated by the state's isolated location and lack of fossil fuel resources. The state relies heavily on imports of petroleum; Hawaii has the highest share of petroleum use in the United States, with 67% of electricity generation in the state coming from petroleum in 2023, compared to less than 1% nationally.[1][2]

As of 2021 renewable energy made up 34.5% on Oahu, Maui and the island of Hawaii.[3]

Hawaii has the highest electricity prices in the United States. As of 2016 the average cost of electricity was $0.24 per kilowatt-hour, followed by Alaska at $0.19. The U.S. average was $0.10.


Hawaii's energy consumption is dominated by oil, which in 2016 provided 83% (down from 85.0% in 2008 and 99.7% in 1960). Other sources in 2016 included coal (5.6%) and renewable energy (11.2%). In 2017, sources of renewable power were:[clarification needed]

2017 Renewable power
Distributed PV 33.50%
Utility-scale PV 4.90%
Wind 26.60%
Hydro 3.60%
Geothermal 10.50%
Biofuels 1.60%
Biomass 19.20%

Renewable energy support[edit]

Hawaii has committed to developing renewable energy to supply 70 percent or more of Hawaii's energy needs by 2030.[4][5][6]

Hawaii requires solar water heaters for new homes, except for those in areas with poor solar energy resources, homes using other renewable energy sources, and homes employing on-demand gas-fired water heaters.[7] It offers a rebate of the lesser of 35% of the cost of photovoltaics or $5,000.[8]


Wind and solar capacity for current and planned projects in Hawaii as of January 2020

Hawaii began concrete support for renewable energy in the 21st century.


HB 3179 made it easier for biofuel producers to lease state lands. SB 3190 and HB 2168 authorized special purpose revenue bonds to help finance a solar energy facility on Oahu and hydrogen generation and conversion facilities at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, located on Hawaii island.

In 2010 SB 644 mandated solar water heaters for new construction, with some exceptions. The bill eliminated solar thermal energy tax credits for homes.[7]

SB 988 allowed the Hawaii Public Utility Commission to establish a rebate for photovoltaic systems, and HB 2550 encouraged net metering for residential and small commercial customers.

In 2008 HB 2863 provided streamlined permitting for new renewable energy facilities of at least 200 megawatts capacity. HB 2505 created a full-time renewable energy facilitator to help the state expedite permits. HB 2261 provided loans of up to $1.5 million and up to 85% of the cost of renewable energy projects at farms and aquaculture facilities.

HRS 235 established an income tax credit for photovoltaic systems of the lesser of 35% of the cost or $5,000.[8]

Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative[edit]

On January 28, 2008, the State of Hawaii and the US Department of Energy announced the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, which established the commitment for energy to supply 70 percent of Hawaii's energy needs by 2030.[4][5][6]

The Initiative intended to work with public and private partners on renewable energy projects including: designing cost-effective approaches for 100 percent use of renewable energy on smaller islands, improve grid stability while incorporating variable generating sources and expanding Hawaii's capability to use locally grown crops for producing fuel and electricity.[9]

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

Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority[edit]

The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority is a test site for experimental renewable energy. It was originally built to test Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), and later evolved into a commercial (but requiring state subsidies and county agricultural rate potable water) industrial park, including desalinating drinking water for export, aquaculture, biofuel from algae, solar thermal energy, concentrating solar and wind power.


Sources of electricity on the Big Island 2014–2016

Ninety-nine percent of the population in Hawaii (outside of Kauai) is supplied by Hawaiian Electric Industries (HECO).[10] Kauai is supplied by consumer-owned Kauai Island Utility Cooperative. As of 2018, the total dispatchable capacity was 1,727 MW, and the intermittent generation capacity was 588 MW.[11] Each island generates its own power, unconnected to other islands.[12] The islands have several grid batteries.[13]


Oil is the largest electricity source. As of 2022 it produced over half of the total.[14]


Solar power in Hawaii grew quickly, putting household energy generation below the cost of purchased electricity. In 2017, solar power produced 38.4% of the state's renewable electricity.[citation needed]

As of March 2020, 916 MW of solar generating capacity was installed in HECO areas.[15]

Wind power[edit]

Kaheawa Wind Power

In 2022 Hawaii wind farms produced 626 GWh or 19.1% of the state's renewable electricity.[14] This is generated by the following wind farms:

Wind power in Hawaii
Name Location Coordinates Capacity
Number of
Auwahi Wind Energy Hybrid Maui County 24 8 2012
Hawi Wind Farm Hawaii County 10.6 16 2006
Kaheawa Wind Power Maui County 30 20 2006
Kaheawa Wind Power II Maui County 21 14 2012
Kahuku Wind Power Honolulu County 30 12 2011
Kawailoa Wind Honolulu County 69 30 2012
Pakini Nui Wind Farm Hawaii County 21 14 2007
Lalamilo Wells Hawaii County 3.3 5 2017 [16]
Nā Pua Makani Honolulu County 24 8 2021 [17]

Hawaii began research into wind power in the mid-1980s with a 340 kW turbine on Maui, the 2.3 MW Lalamilo Wells wind farm on Oahu and the 9 MW Kamaoa wind farm on Hawaii Island.[18] The MOD-5B, a 3.2 MW wind turbine, on Oahu was the largest in the world in 1987. These early examples were all out of service by 2010.


Hawaii has several biomass electric plants including the 10 MW Honolulu International Airport Emergency Power Facility, the 6.7 MW Green Energy Agricultural Biomass-to-Energy Facility on Kauai, and the 6.6 MW waste-to-energy Honua Power Project on Hawaii Island. The 21.5 MW Hu Honua plant remains in litigation and is not online.[19] Wärtsilä sold a plant to Hawaii Electric to be installed at Schofield Barracks Army Base on Oahu in 2017. The plant can run on solid or gas fuels including biomass.[20]

Pacific Biodiesel operates a biodiesel production facility on Hawaii Island. It provides fuel to Hawaiian Electric Industries, the City and County of Honolulu and marine company Extended Horizons.[21]


Hawaii has banned new coal plants.[22] Between 1992 and 2022, a single plant operated in the state, AES Hawaii Power Plant, which generated 180 MWe.[23] The plant closed in September 2022, accompanied by a 7% increase in electricity rates.[24]

Wave power[edit]

The U.S. Navy and the University of Hawaii operate a Wave Energy Test Site in Kaneohe Bay.[25]


The 38 MW Puna Geothermal Venture was constructed on Hawaii island between 1989 and 1993. It operated until May 2018 when it was shut down due to the 2018 lower Puna eruption, and resumed production at 25 MW in November 2020.[26]

Algae fuel[edit]

Cellana produces oil from algae at a 2.5 hectares (6.2 acres) research site at Kailua-Kona on Hawaii island. Cellana (previously 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, on the island's west shore.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hawaii State Energy Profile". Energy Information Administration. April 18, 2024. Retrieved July 4, 2024.
  2. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What is U.S. electricity generation by energy source?". Energy Information Administration. February 29, 2024. Retrieved July 4, 2024.
  3. ^ "Hawaiian Electric hits nearly 35% renewable energy, exceeding state mandate". www.hawaiianelectric.com.
  4. ^ a b "Hawaii Clean Energy". Archived from the original on December 28, 2008. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Hawaii Bans New Coal Plants, Plans to be 70% Renewable by 2030". Archived from the original on January 27, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Hawaii MOU" (PDF). March 2022. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 4, 2015. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  7. ^ a b Yonan Jr., Alan (January 9, 2011). "Homebuilders skirt solar law More than 20% of new homes use loophole to avoid adding solar". Honolulu Star Advertiser.
  8. ^ a b "House Bill". www.capitol.hawaii.gov. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  9. ^ "Governor: Hawaii to be "world model" for clean energy". Archived from the original on October 23, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  10. ^ Lyte, Brittany (May 9, 2022). "Hawaiian Electric May Have To Build A New Oil-Fired Power Plant On Maui". Honolulu Civil Beat. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  11. ^ "Power Facts". www.hawaiianelectric.com.
  12. ^ "Can Hawaii go 100% Renewable?". January 12, 2017.
  13. ^ Murray, Cameron (January 16, 2023). "Wärtsilä's second solar-plus-storage Hawaii project for IPP Clearway goes online". Energy Storage News.
  14. ^ a b "Our Clean Energy Portfolio". www.hawaiianelectric.com. Retrieved January 11, 2024.
  15. ^ "Cumulative Installed PV -- As of Mar 31, 2020" (PDF). March 2022.
  16. ^ "California company plans to build $13M wind farm on Hawaii's Big Island". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved March 11, 2022.
  17. ^ "Nā Pua Makani". www.aes-hawaii.com. Retrieved January 19, 2024.
  18. ^ "Wind Energy". Hawaiian Electric Company. 2013. Archived from the original on June 4, 2015.
  19. ^ http://www.ililani.media/2020/08/the-rise-and-fall-of-hu-honua.html Archived September 23, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, ililani media, August 10, 2020
  20. ^ Voegele, Erin (December 2, 2014). "Wartsila to provide 50 MW plant to bioenergy project in Hawaii | Biomassmagazine.com". biomassmagazine.com. Retrieved October 18, 2022.
  21. ^ "Pacific Biodiesel will export biofuel to California". mauinews.com. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  22. ^ "Hawaii Bans New Coal Plants, Plans to be 70% Renewable by 2030". Archived from the original on January 27, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  23. ^ "Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2006" (Excel). Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy. 2006. Retrieved July 14, 2008.
  24. ^ Jones, Caleb (September 1, 2022). "Hawaii quits coal in bid to fight climate change". Associated Press.
  25. ^ Creamer, Beverly (July 1, 2014). "The Navy and private companies collaborate to turn wave energy into electricity". Hawaii Business Magazine. Retrieved October 18, 2022.
  26. ^ "Puna Geothermal Venture Goes Back Online". www.bigislandvideonews.com.