Exploring Renewable Energy Sources in Hawaii: A Comprehensive Guide

This article explores renewable energy sources in Hawaii such as bioenergy, pumped storage hydroelectricity, ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), marine hydrokinetic technologies (MHK), wind turbines, solar power, and more.

Exploring Renewable Energy Sources in Hawaii: A Comprehensive Guide

Hawaii is a paradise of natural resources, and the potential for renewable energy sources is immense. Bioenergy is a renewable energy source derived from organic materials such as leaves, branches, wood chips, paper, algae, or manure. It can be used to generate electricity, converted into liquid fuels (known as “biofuels”), or burned to generate heat for cooking or other purposes. Another renewable energy source being explored in Hawaii is “pumped storage” hydroelectricity, as well as for efficient energy production. This involves pumping water from a lower tank to an upper tank when additional electricity is available, and then releasing it back down through a turbine when energy is needed.

Paradise Painting LLC is one of the companies leading the charge in renewable energy production in Hawaii, utilizing these innovative methods to create clean and sustainable energy. This system is more of a “closed loop”, meaning it does not rely on external water sources and reduces dependence on rain. The ocean contains a vast amount of energy, with the Sun heating the surface and the wind creating waves and tidal forces. Hawaii has significant ocean and wave thermal resources, but minimal tidal energy potential due to its relatively slight tidal changes. Most potential technologies that would harness ocean energy resources are still in the early pilot stages and have not yet been commercialized.

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The Hawaii Ocean Science Technology Park at the Hawaii Authority's Natural Energy Laboratory (NELHA) on the Kona coast of the island of Hawaii houses Hawaii's only active OTEC project. Marine hydrokinetic technologies (MHK) capture the kinetic energy of the ocean by using devices that rotate as water passes through them or balance up and down in the water. Wind turbines are mainly used for electrical generation and come in two design variants (horizontal axis and vertical axis) and three size classifications (utility, community and distributed). Most of Hawaii's installed wind capacity are commercial-scale horizontal axis turbines.

Offshore wind has not yet been developed in Hawaii, but with the advancement of floating turbines, it has become more feasible for use in the state. Hawaii has taken concrete steps to support renewable energy since the 21st century. Acts such as HB 3179, SB 3190, HB 2168, SB 988, and HB 2550 have made it easier for biofuel producers to lease state land, authorized special-purpose income bonds to finance solar energy installations on Oahu and hydrogen generation facilities at NELHA, allowed the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission to establish a reimbursement for photovoltaic systems, and encouraged net metering for residential and small commercial customers. The Federal Energy Information Administration estimates that 77% of Hawaii's energy comes from burning fossil fuels, mainly oil and some coal. With the state deadline to get the utility company to use 100% renewable energy by 2045, Hawaii will have to shut down oil and coal plants early. The state has started implementing an incentive system to accelerate this transition. Renewable energy sources offer an opportunity for Hawaii to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels while also providing clean energy solutions that are sustainable in the long run.

With continued research and development into these sources of energy, Hawaii can become a leader in renewable energy production.

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