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If the Interisland Wind Project brought 400 megawatts of wind power from Lanai and Molokai to Oahu as planned, this would bring the island's total wind power to 500 megawatts, meeting increasing energy needs

A new study has found that an additional 400 megawatts of wind power, coupled with existing wind farms and solar energy, could provide 25 percent of Oahu's projected electricity demand. 

The study, which is the Oahu Wind Integration Study, was conducted by the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the Hawaiian Electric Company and General Electric Company. The study found that the energy needs of Oahu are increasing. Currently, low sulfur fuel oil (LSFO) and coal are burned annually to meet energy needs on the island.

But if the Interisland Wind Project brought 400 megawatts of wind power from Lanai and Molokai to Oahu as planned, this would bring the island's total wind power to 500 megawatts. This, along with 100 megawatts of solar power found on Oahu, could eliminate the need to burn 2.8 million barrels of LSFO and 132,000 tons of coal annually.

"The findings of this study show it is feasible to integrate large-scale wind and solar projects on Oahu but also have value beyond Hawaii," said Dr. Rick Rocheleau, Director of the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute. "Both large mainland utilities and relatively small and/or isolated grids that wish to integrate significant amounts of renewable energy while maintaining reliability for their customers can learn from this study." 

The study also provided recommendations that should be combined with the additional wind power, which include increasing power reserves in order to help manage wind variability, providing cutting edge wind power forecasting, increasing ramp rates of Hawaiian Electric's thermal generating units, reducing minimum stable operating power of baseload generating units, providing severe weather monitoring and evaluating other resources that can contribute reserve. 

"To reach our renewable energy goals, we need to use all the resources available to us," said Robbie Alm, Hawaiian Electric executive vice president. "For Oahu, this includes the utility-scale solar, roof-top solar, waste-to-energy and on-island wind that we are pursuing. But on-island resources are not enough to meet Oahu's power needs." 

Alm added that the study shows the benefits of alternative energy technology, but presents financial and environmental challenges that must be overcome before it is implemented. However, he sees the study as being an "essential first step for the Interisland Wind Project."

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By kattanna on 3/18/2011 11:16:13 AM , Rating: 5
just what i want to see when i go on my next vacation to a beautiful island.. miles and miles of windmills.. cause i dont get enough of those here at home in los angeles.

i also see it as a really poor use of what little land they do have. move the wind farm off into the coastal waters and it will be a much better idea.

RE: YES!!!
By tng on 3/18/2011 11:31:10 AM , Rating: 2
Great scenery, I agree.

You think that they would tap all the volcanic activity and use geothermal. Inject water into a hot area and use that to drive turbines.

Anybody know how hard it would be to bring power from the big island to Oahu?

RE: YES!!!
By Smartless on 3/18/2011 3:00:37 PM , Rating: 3
Sorry picked your post to respond to everything I've been reading. I'm not an expert nor do i know everything about alternative power but... I do live here.

Here's a few fun opinions or facts they don't normally cover in the articles.

1) Geothermal energy although very viable on the Big Island has met continuous pressure to stop because native Hawaiians believe the volcano to be sacred.

2) Ocean Thermal Energy (heat differences in ocean water) works fairly well but is viable mainly where there is a coast that has a steep drop off, unfortunately maintenance has been an issue lately as well as coastal areas are highly prized by resorts even with the drop off.

3) Wind energy, part of the problem is no one can afford a wind turbine that can withstand the continuous corrosive tradewinds and so far all the production wind farms are rusting to pieces. Except the brand new one going up in Kahuku (Oahu). Yeah put it on another island, then some joker boat can run his anchor and break another submerged line. It's happened a few times in spite of the precautions taken.

4) Solar is seeing ALOT of usage as private PV systems are springing up on many homes. Lots of potential since most of these homes are net-zero electricity homes. Course, not many people can afford the nearly $40,000 to install. There are a few solar companies trying to build PV farms but either land's expensive or water is short demand.

5) As for bringing power from the Big Island, see that would make sense but no one can front the capital. Tourism is the only real business here and well business hasn't been good. I could be wrong on that one but the Big Island is the only one that could possibly go completely renewable but hasn't yet.

6) Personally,I'd love a nuclear plant on Kahoolawe which is an uninhabited island with nothing but abandoned ordinance from when it was target practice for the military(they claim to have cleaned it up). But alas, with Japan's crisis that will never happen much less the tourism industry will be very bad. I can barely afford to pay my mortgage much less donate to the motherland.

Sorry for the long post.

RE: YES!!!
By tng on 3/18/2011 3:38:23 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry for the long post.
No Problem

Your post answered just about all the questions I had and probably some for others as well.

On the geothermal, I forgot about the Hawaiians volcano god, guess they would have some issues with that.

I grew up on the West coast of the US and there were plenty of natural hot springs that were used for Geothermal electricity generation and also the hot water was used to directly heat homes and buildings. Seemed like a natural for Hawaii to use what it had.

RE: YES!!!
By ArcliteHawaii on 3/18/2011 8:39:07 PM , Rating: 2
There's no need for a nuke plant in Hawaii. If you can't make alternative energy work in Hawaii which has some of the most abundant resources in the world, you can't make it work anywhere and the world is fcked.

I heard a while back they'd be doing offshore wind south of Moloka'i. There's a nice shallow shelf there, and it would be out of site of most beaches.

There are lots of corrosion resistant wind turbines, as many wind farms are on shorelines. If you are claiming they are "too expensive" please provide links. I think this is a non-issue.

As for solar, there's lots of scrub land/desert on Maui and the big island that tourists never see that could easily be used for solar generation.

The cost of wind and solar continue to fall while other forms of electric generation are rising.

RE: YES!!!
By Smartless on 3/18/2011 10:49:36 PM , Rating: 2
I'd love to agree with you on your first point but let's also remember that Hawai'i loves to market itself as a beautiful paradise with endangered species blah blah. Every renewable resource we put in does something. Hydroelectric kills the Hawaiian Mudskipper, wind farms on the Waianae range are an eyesore, etc. All shot down.

I'd like to see what the Molokai EIS comes back with since you can't even dump storm water near that shelf. Heaven knows Molokai definitely needs the jobs.

Now its hard to find negative press about renewable energy since no company or government will post bad results. As a student I visited the wind farm in Lalamilo, the maintenance cost bankrupted the company WITH subsidies in a matter of years. But let's look at the facts, they've tried many times and how many are still working? Wind energy isn't a stable source and power grids don't like that. It also takes up Hawaii biggest resource, land. I posted links but regrettably opinions so grain of salt time.

As for solar, I love the idea however the most efficient designs require insane amounts of water of which those areas are a little sparse on. Private PV is actually the most logical solution and I'd prefer that if it wasn't so expensive. I'm not saying I'm not willing to sacrifice anything for renewable energy but hey you live in Hawaii like I do, so you know how backwards our government thinks. This will only work if we go all out or we have another bully like Mufi to push things through.

RE: YES!!!
By ArcliteHawaii on 3/18/2011 11:04:06 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the links and intelligent conversation.

RE: YES!!!
By Solandri on 3/19/2011 7:07:28 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, with the high cost of housing in Hawaii, private PV adds a smaller fraction to the cost of a home than elsewhere in the U.S. The state is near the equator and has atypically good weather. So the annual amount of solar radiation received is going to be good too. Solar is often a losing proposition economically, but I can see it working there.

I'm not sure Hawaii can support a nuclear power plant. The figures I'm looking up say the state's average electrical consumption throughout the year is 1.2 GW. Figure that's 1.6 GW during day, 800 MW at night assuming a typical 2:1 ratio of day:night power consumption. As you're seeing from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, nuclear reactors really don't like being scaled up or down in power. They're typically run flat out at 90% capacity for weeks or months at a time. So the max nuclear capacity they could use is a hair under 900 MW. That's really, really small as nuclear plants go. You could do it with a single reactor, but it'd be more expensive since you can't spread the cost of the plant's support infrastructure over 2+ reactors.

You also have an evacuation problem in the event of an emergency. Oahu, where most of the people live, is only about 30 miles across. I don't think there are high-capacity power lines between the islands, so a nuclear plant would have to be put on Oahu. If something does go wrong and you need to evacuate people beyond 30 miles, you're looking at evacuating ~1 million people by boat. That's going to be almost a logistical impossibility.

RE: YES!!!
By ArcliteHawaii on 3/19/2011 7:28:23 PM , Rating: 2
You could do it with a single reactor, but it'd be more expensive since you can't spread the cost of the plant's support infrastructure over 2+ reactors.
Well one big issue is that reactors are taken offline for refueling and maintenance. The Fukushima reactors 4, 5, & 6 had been down for many months undergoing refueling and maintenance. So you could possibly do it with 2 500MW reactors (accounting for future growth), but most nuclear reactors are 800-1000MW, so these would have to be specially designed, possibly driving up cost. Also, when 1 was offline, you'd have to make up half a gigawatt with something else. In addition you'd need supplemental power sources.

You also have an evacuation problem in the event of an emergency. Oahu, where most of the people live, is only about 30 miles across. I don't think there are high-capacity power lines between the islands, so a nuclear plant would have to be put on Oahu.
You'd never get anyone to agree to a nuke plant on Oahu. They are already talking about running undersea cables for the Moloka'i and Lana'i wind farms; they'd do the same for a nuke plant. The poster mentioned uninhabited Kaho'olawe, the southwestern tip of which is already 30 miles from the Kihei on Maui, the closest settlement. Even better is Ni'ihau off of Kaua'i, but it's in private hands.

But all of this is pie in the sky. There will never be a nuke plant in Hawaii. Cost, logistics, and politics are all against it.

RE: YES!!!
By Smartless on 3/20/2011 8:05:13 PM , Rating: 2
I couldn't agree more. Nuclear power plants will NEVER end up in Hawaii but it's a nice relatively compact source. As for having too much power, the full gamut of the plan is to use the excess energy to power Desalinization plants and manufacture water as well as maybe an export business for sea salt. Desal plants take a lot of power hence we don't have a whole lot of them and there are clean water shortages on all islands except Kauai and the Big Island. But of course, we would still need miles of dumb cables. Just pie-in-the-sky thinking. Sorry didn't mean to continue on this post but its nice to have this kind of discussion without somebody saying "Keep the country, country" all the time.

RE: YES!!!
By fteoath64 on 3/19/2011 12:33:25 PM , Rating: 2
This is almost the ideal energy resource which is clean but only abundant in the moon. So I blame NASA and US Defense department for "forcing the dependence on oil or nuke" for their own selfish purposes.

Imagine if a global space ship can just mine Helium3 from the moon, we would be AWAY from Oil,Gas and Coal already. Some estimates said that 80 tonnes of the stuff can power the earth for a whole year!!!. I would say 3-4 trips per year is enough.

So what the heck does the scientists want to go to Mars for ?. The Moon has our answer or is USA afraid of the inhabitants of the moon ?.

RE: YES!!!
By sleepeeg3 on 3/18/2011 3:56:55 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention that these would be 40+ story tall wind turbines... They would also cost 3-4x as much as the fuel sources currently on the island, driving up prices on everything even more, as if prices in Hawaii weren't expensive enough.

RE: YES!!!
By ArcliteHawaii on 3/18/2011 9:44:32 PM , Rating: 1
They would also cost 3-4x as much as the fuel sources currently on the island, driving up prices on everything even more, as if prices in Hawaii weren't expensive enough.

This is total BS. 85% of the electricity on Oahu is generated by diesel generators. There is no way wind is 3-4x more. It might cost a bit more, although many analyses peg it equal to or cheaper than coal and gas, the closest equivs to diesel (almost no one generates electricity from deisel, so no numbers are available). See: (See page 39)
Or a bit more:

With peak oil pretty much here, a barrel of oil will shortly be back up to $150 or more, we'll be paying through the nose again like we were in 2008. And don't believe me: peak oil isn't just for crackpots any more.
The US Military predicts peak oil in 2012 with shortfalls by 2015: (p. 29)
The German army says oil peaked in 2010:,1518...
Shell Oil:
Government of Kuwait:
Etc, etc.

RE: YES!!!
By sleepeeg3 on 3/20/2011 8:32:27 PM , Rating: 2
Common sense: If solar or wind were actually cheaper than oil and gas, don't you think the entire world would have switched by now?

Instead of relying on biased sources to do the math for you, do your own research. Simple cost comparison of the latest and greatest power plants from any technology will show you how truly expensive wind/solar really are. Most analysts leave out the efficiency or lifetime replacement costs in their analysis, because they are trying to push an agenda. With actual efficiencies of commercial wind/solar power projects between 20-30%, the costs go up dramatically.

RE: YES!!!
By Solandri on 3/20/2011 8:53:28 PM , Rating: 2
Normally I'm with you in bashing solar and wind's cost. But he is right in Hawaii's case. Due to having to import all their fuels and each island having an independent grid, Hawaii has considerably higher electricity costs than the rest of the country. $0.20/kWh for residential, and $0.30/kWh for commercial on Oahu, even higher for the other islands.

That's high enough that wind (typically $0.12-$0.20/kWh) actually makes sense, and solar ($0.40/kWh) is not an outlandish proposition. As I've outlined in my posts above, nuclear is logistically a poor fit for them. So the renewables (especially wind) actually make sense in Hawaii.

RE: YES!!!
By sleepeeg3 on 3/20/2011 8:36:59 PM , Rating: 2
PS. According to that abominable graph you first linked to, it looks like coal is about 3 cents/kwh and wind is 12 cents/kwh. That puts it at 4x as expensive - like I have been saying.

...and solar is off the chart.

RE: YES!!!
By Solandri on 3/20/2011 9:04:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote: (See page 39)

I should point out that the figures on page 39 include tax subsidies. For the unsubsidized cost, refer to page 38. You'll see that wind, with a subsidized cost of $99/MWh with tax credits, jumps up to $140/MWh without the subsidy.

It's not enough to change what you're saying for Hawaii's case (you guys have some ridiculously high electricity costs). But I don't want any of you Hawaiians investing in wind farms thinking it'll only cost $100/MWh, then have the farm go bankrupt when you find out the true cost is 40% higher.

RE: YES!!!
By Solandri on 3/18/2011 4:25:49 PM , Rating: 2
i also see it as a really poor use of what little land they do have. move the wind farm off into the coastal waters and it will be a much better idea.

You have to remember that Hawaii is basically a bunch of volcanic mountains. The underwater topography is that the islands are just the tip tops of these mountains. When you go offshore, the ocean floor drops off very quickly. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if the water is 1-2 miles deep just a few miles offshore. It's a very bad location for offshore wind.

RE: YES!!!
By ArcliteHawaii on 3/18/2011 9:53:26 PM , Rating: 2
While it does drop off quickly to the north and south of most island, in between it is fairly shallow. There is a nice shallow shelf off Molokai that is visible only to a very few beaches on Molokai only which is perfect for offshore wind. I understand they are doing an environmental impact study currently.

RE: YES!!!
By Solandri on 3/19/2011 5:40:56 PM , Rating: 2
Hmm, I see what you mean. Penguin Bank, right?

Yes, it could work there. And it's close enough to Oahu that you could run the power lines straight there (and Honolulu) instead of to Molokai. It looks like it would be much more visible from Oahu and Honolulu than from Molokai though.

The shelf looks to be about the size of Molkai, so ~700 km^2. The power capacities I'm seeing for current offshore wind farms is about 5-10 MW per km^2 (vs. about 2 MW/km^2 for onshore wind), with a capacity factor of 30%-40%. So assuming there are good, consistent winds there, there's the potential for 1-3 GW average generation from there. Hawaii only uses 1.2 GW average. This looks like a very feasible idea.

RE: YES!!!
By ArcliteHawaii on 3/19/2011 7:39:37 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, the Penguin bank. It would be pretty visible from Moloka'i, but few people live there, and few tourists visit there relative to the other islands. They would be visible from Sandy beach on the east side of Oahu, but that's the only beach on the island with a view of Moloka'i, and on most days you can't even see the island anyway, as it's 20 miles away and the humidity reduces the visibility. They mostly wouldn't be visible from Waikiki for example, as Diamond Head and Koko Head would be in between and the distance would reduce visibility.

I think the biggest thing they are worried about is would the offshore wind affect the humpback whale breeding in some way.

Yeah, I think it is feasible, especially combined with other types of power generation mentioned previously: micro solar, geothermal, ocean thermal, and some onshore wind.

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