Hawaii’s Ambitious Goals to Go Green
Maui hillside wind farm is leading the green movement. Photo Credit: South Maui Sustainability
Beginning this year, every home built in Hawaii must, at a minimum, have a solar hot water heater. Hawaii is becoming a green energy leader in the US, and that is at least somewhat due to necessity. 90 percent of the state’s energy needs are currently met by imported oil. The state has a lofty goal of 70 percent of all power coming from clean energy by 2030, and they may just be able to pull it off. Not all of the green is coming in the bluish hue of solar panels, though. Some are large wind turbines and there’s even a really great sea water air conditioner in operation.
Susan Chandler, a Hawaii resident, said her bill went from $100 per month to $36 by installing just six solar panels. Beyond the significant savings, she is very happy to watch how many trees or toxic emissions she’s saved by her using panels. (Note: this technology is a standard monitoring tool provided by many solar technologies - ask your installer if you’d like the same). Susan even went so far as to wonder why everyone isn’t doing it!
There is a field of 200-foot high wind turbines on Maui, too. Some love them, some hate them, but they account for almost 9 percent of the island’s power needs. It took an oil spike of $150 per barrel to get the naysayers off the fence, and the towers onto the mountain. The turbines operate intermittently due to issues with the grid on Maui, the article notes. Still, plans are swirling to bring more of the turbines in, as Hawaii grapples with the ever-increasing cost of oil.
And lest we forget how one company, Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning, is saving resources. Rather than conventional forms of air conditioning, this company has devised a piping system that carries hot water into the depths of the ocean to cool, and then pumps it back again. Currently, the company cools 40 of downtown Honolulu’s largest buildings. Of course, it did require miles of pipe, but didn’t take any freon. The pump’s energy consumption needs would have to be factored in as well to truly determine a green status. But like the Chief Operating Officer Tom Wilkolak of the company said, “Our source is renewable…infinitely renewable.” And no one is going to argue that.
As much as California gets the credit (and mostly rightfully so), Hawaii’s ambitious goals may someday top California as the US leader of the solar revolution. Of course, there are no winners or losers since the effects of renewable energy benefit everyone. Either way, Hawaii is looking at any means to achieve its goal of 70 percent renewable by 2030. If you’ve got a bright idea on how to help them do it, this may be opportunity knocking.
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