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Releasing Gas

Most of the electricity in Hawaii is generated using petroleum, but their power generation facilities are old and are not keeping up with population growth. As a result, last year Hawaiians paid around 36 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to the US average of 12 cents/kwh. The plan was to convert to using LNG (liquefied natural gas) to produce electricity.

But then Governor David Ige announced that instead of spending the money to convert to LNG, he was changing the plan so that the state would convert to 100% renewable resources (such as wind and solar) by the year 2045 – just 30 years. If the island state can achieve this, it will make them the world’s most important laboratory for the fight against climate change.

Some people have said that this is an impractical goal. However, just a few years ago Hawaii set a goal of having 15% of electricity generation to come from renewable sources by 2015. Back then, many said that goal was unrealistic. But due to the rapid drop in the price of renewable energy, by 2014 they were already generating 21% of their energy from renewable sources. The lesson they learned was that change only comes when it is demanded.

There will be obstacles to be overcome, but the state is working together to overcome them. The state’s major utility is on board, and they have found an unlikely ally. Around half the energy in Hawaii is used by the US military, and the military has become concerned about energy endangering security. The Army says that they have seen a quadrupling in electricity outages across the US. These are caused by extreme weather events, which are increasing due to global warming, and by aging equipment and infrastructure. And in Hawaii, power generation plants are located on the coasts, making them vulnerable to tsunamis and rising sea levels.

With plummeting costs for photovoltaic panels and wind turbines, renewable energy is now competitive with fossil fuels. It won’t damage our economy to convert, in fact it will make us more secure. The only thing standing in our way is politics. It is good to see Hawaii taking the lead in solving this problem.



  1. William wrote:

    I would think that Hawaii would have tremendous potential for using geothermal heat for electrical generation.

    Monday, August 31, 2015 at 7:08 am | Permalink
  2. John wrote:

    Good thought, William, but there may be stability problems involved. Still…

    Monday, August 31, 2015 at 1:32 pm | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    I believe that all the geothermal heat is located on the big island, which is not where most of the people live.

    Monday, August 31, 2015 at 2:33 pm | Permalink
  4. BTN wrote:

    Hawaii is an island known for its big waves. There are several methods for converting this wave energy into elctricity (although I don’t know if they have been commercialized).

    Wednesday, September 2, 2015 at 1:54 am | Permalink