Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hawaii's Unique Energy Situation

Hawai'i is the most isolated piece of land in the world. You can go to outer space 8 times and back in the same distance that it takes for you to go from here to the nearest major land-mass. It would come to no surprise that it takes a considerable amount of effort to get things here. Whether by plane or by ship, the cost it takes is reflected in our cost of living. Since we as an island have a limited amount of resources in coal and oil, we have to import the majority of our energy from elsewhere, resulting in energy costs double or triple the cost of the Mainland. As such, we have a growing incentive to partake in converting our lifestyle to that of which is a more energy-efficient one.

As oil prices rise, this initiative is starting to become a more and more feasible one. So much so that ex-Governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, signed a bill to make 70% of our current energy needs renewable by 2030. This entails becoming 30% more energy-efficient while converting 40% of our current energy needs to that of renewable energy. While this may seem like a lofty goal, our unique location and resources, as well as the ever-increasing state of technology, make it seem like a realistic one.

Being in the middle of the ocean, we don't have much in the way of traditional carbon-based fuel. We do, however, have a majority of renewable energy that has been popularized the past decade. Solar, wind, wave, geothermal, you name it, we have it. As the price in investment in these technologies goes down, along with the rise of oil prices, we have a noticeable and realistic incentive to convert our energy into renewable energy. As a state, we have a already started to invest in wind farms, solar energy as well as research into alternative energy like Kukui Nut Oil, that makes us well on the way to renewable energy.

Being a new investment, our renewable energy would only amount to so much of our current energy needs. Our power plants generate far more electricity than the current efficiency of our renewable energy can cover. We, therefore, have to learn how to cut our energy needs to better make use of our renewable energy. This would come in the form of energy auditing and regulations. The majority of energy use in Hawai'i comes from the business and industrial sector. With current technology, a business can easily tell just how much energy electricity is being used and from where. A feasible plan for cutting our energy consumption would be to offer incentives, be it fines for excessive energy use or tax-cuts for sufficient reduction, to businesses to spur them to undergo energy audits and reconstruction. Whether by installing new technology or altering their energy policies, a business would stand to reason to use less energy under this plan.

These strategies would almost definitely cut our dependence on foreign oil and act as a blueprint for the rest of the world in transitioning to alternative energy.

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