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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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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.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
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