Renewable energy sources are “renewed” naturally and continuously, and the Hawaiian Islands have an abundance of natural resources that can be used to generate energy. To meet the state's clean energy goals, the State of Hawaii has mandated that by 2045, 100 percent of the electricity sold by utilities must come from renewable energy sources. Currently, 33 percent of its electricity comes from rooftop solar energy and 60 utility scale renewable energy projects supply power to its grids. Computer models can provide insight into the challenges of having more renewable energy, but they cannot provide all the answers.
When Hawaii reaches 100 percent clean energy, it will need to be prepared to store enough energy from intermittent renewable sources to cover peak loads. Small-scale solar energy is favored over wind and solar farms in Hawaii's current renewable energy system, and a study released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows that Hawaii offers a “preview” of what states could do as the United States moves toward renewable energy faster than many experts had expected. The Hawaii Electric Company (HECO) needs to get enough renewable energy to power the grid, and Hawaii Senator Glenn Wakai noticed a problem in the islands' renewable energy plans during a Zoom meeting in late January. Elizabeth Doris leads a program at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, that helps islands transition to renewable energy.
Hawaii's clean energy legislation requires electric companies to incorporate an increasing percentage of renewable energy sources into their sales until the 100 percent deadline in 2045. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced that nearly half of the utility scale power generation capacity installed in the United States last year went to renewable energy. Wind energy is predicted to overtake hydropower this year as the country's largest source of renewable energy. Islands have good reasons to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydroelectric, wave and geothermal energy. Multi-year data on large-scale renewable energy production is needed to more accurately model wind and solar energy since climate varies from year to year. The Hawaiian Islands are uniquely positioned to take advantage of their abundant natural resources and become a leader in sustainable clean energy production. Renewable sources such as solar, wind, hydroelectric, wave and geothermal can provide reliable and cost-effective electricity for Hawaii's residents and businesses.
The state has already made great strides towards its goal of 100 percent clean electricity by 2045, but there are still challenges ahead. Computer models can help identify potential issues with transitioning to more renewable sources, but long-term data is needed to accurately predict how much electricity will be available from these sources on an annual basis. Additionally, storage solutions must be developed in order for Hawaii to be able to rely solely on renewable sources for its electricity needs. Hawaii has set an ambitious goal for itself with its commitment to 100 percent clean electricity by 2045. With its abundance of natural resources and its commitment to sustainability, Hawaii is well-positioned to become a leader in renewable energy production. By investing in research and development of new technologies and storage solutions, Hawaii can ensure that it meets its clean energy goals while providing reliable and cost-effective electricity for its residents.