Hawaiʻi's Technology Community
A group for people interested in renewable energy
Latest Activity: Aug 9, 2013
Started by Charles Feb 8, 2011.
Started by Laurence A. Lee. Last reply by Rubén Peña Jan 21, 2011.
Started by David Heerwald Leonard Apr 21, 2010.
Started by Konstantin A Lukin. Last reply by Konstantin A Lukin Apr 17, 2010.
Started by Konstantin A Lukin Apr 13, 2010.
Aloha Everyone, I am relatively new to TechHui, but so excited about being a part of this forum and have something really special to share with you. I am the Communications Officer for a really REALLY cool project coming out of UH right now. If you haven't heard we are competing in the 2011 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. We are representing the State of Hawaii as a world leader in sustainability as we present clean energy and energy conserving solutions and preparing the leaders of Hawaii's future green workforce. Join our TechHui group to learn more and follow our progress as we take our home, Hale Pilihonua, to Washington, DC!
Hawaii has so much renewable potential, it's great!
Tidal - though studies are still being done to see how the magnetic fields will affect marine populations.
Bio - for the cattle (and other animal) farms. Also yard waste/compost can be used to generate electricity - this is currently being done in AZ.
Solar - as for storage, I read an article a few months back about concrete silos which greatly increase the storage capacity of electricity. I can't find that article - this one http://www.sincerelysustainable.com/renewable-energy/enormous-grani... uses slightly different technology and calls them granite batteries - 72-80% capacity on best case scenario.
I was just in AZ working for a Utility company which is putting in Solar Farms - the utility company puts up the solar areas over a large area and sells customers solar power from the Farm/Array. This allows customers to buy solar power without the expense of putting solar panels on their roof. In AZ case, the rate was about double, but was guaranteed for 20 years. In AZ there are large areas without trees. This could be modified for urban areas - parking garages, large buildings - perhaps require all resorts (or all new ones) to install solar on their roofs. I have too many trees in my yard in WA to install solar (other than for hot water). That is unless I contract my tree climbing buddy to put the solar panel in the top of the trees. That sounds funny, especially considering my trees are over 120ft tall, but it is a reality.
All renewable energy solutions have problems - the real key to minimizing those is energy efficiency. But like placing solar panels in the tops of the trees, there are usually creative (and sometimes not so creative) solutions. Besides, non-renewable energy has lots more problems.
Storage and ramp rates are of particular importance if you are looking to renewable energy as a firm source of power. My experience is to let innovation flourish by custom designing distributed generation systems for different groups of customers. Let me give you some real examples in Hawaii.
An elderly friend of mine has a home with a micro hydro dam which he uses to store electricity from solar panels to power his home instead of batteries. There is also flywheel technology which is yet to come to Hawaii which is an excellent source of storage for large power with particular interest in giving utility preferred ramp rates, due to cost only utility scale projects qualify. The idea is to be the primary source of power for yourself and see the utility as the secondary source of power, redundancy.
I have several smart homeowners who upsize their home PV systems and guess what they do with the excess electricity? Buy a Nissan Leaf and there goes the gas bill and some folks just wanted to some extra power (without the guilt)
Another customer of mine has grasped the immense commercial potential of FIT in Hawaii and started leasing roof tops for PV arrays to be installed under FIT program and make a new contracted/captive production/revenue stream at a decent kWh rate.
There are lots of exciting possibilities ahead, today I attended the BOMA luncheon where the newly formed Kuokoa President spoke of ambitious plans to transform Hawaii energy scenario in the next 10 years.
We need to look globally for solutions in getting the mix correct for renewable energy in Hawaii. For example, the Australian outback communities are supplied by something called PV-Diesel Smart Grid Technology.
That brings us to the real solution in a broad sense - Smart Grid which can accept electricity generation and storage from multiple sources and deliver firm electricity 24/7, you play with the source matrix and get the grid parity that you can afford.
The Feed-in Tariff's goal is to enable many small energy producers and leave the business in the state, instead of exporting energy dollars to big RE companies on the mainland. It needs to be backed up by the availability of capital, otherwise it cannot work.
The old and current solution is pumped storage. It's the only possibility to store this much energy. Heco has studied it since at least 1992, but everyone is afraid of the permitting hurdles and the huge costs.
Maui, for example, has had a number of studies for smaller systems, but no further action. The daily energy need of Maui can be stored in a 21-acre lake, 60 feet deep, connected to another lake 3000 feet below.
Probably better to build a series of reservoirs that are smaller and connect them into the water system, so that they serve a double function, providing water and storing energy.
This is what should and could have been built in the 1980's. May be hard in the future with scarce money and high interest rates. If we start now, construction could begin maybe 2030, after the permits have been given, the public meetings have been done, the political will accumulated and the money has been raised.
The ultimate solution to going clean and making Hawaii's power grid free of fossil fuels is to build an energy storage facility on each island that is capable of storing enough energy to moderate the intermittent nature of solar and wind power generation.
Wind is intermittent and unpredictable (we don't know exactly when the wind will blow and at what velocity, and it blows more at night when it is needed less than during the day when it is needed more).
Solar is more predicable (we know when the sun will rise and set), but still can be a problem since we don't know exactly when passing clouds will cause PV panels to spike down - then back up when the clouds pass).
We (Hawaii state and HECO) should study the use of energy storage systems such as fly-wheel and others to determine the right technology for the islands. These storage systems can store energy when more energy is being produced than is being used (like wind at night), and deliver it when the demand is peaking (during the afternoons).
I have been studying up on the flywheel technology and there is a newly emerging technology (developed by Lawrence Livermore Labs) that should be considered (in my humble opinion).
I am sure someone at HECO is looking at this...
The sheer amounts of money involved in this are almost always missing from the discussion. While HECO is worth maybe $1 billion, estimates call for $35 billion to build enough renewable energy installations to move 100% to renewables.
But then, the utility burns $2 billion of oil a year and as society moves to electric cars, another $2 billion of gasoline can be replaced by renewables. I my regard, sending $4 billion to Saudi Arabia per year is much worse than investing $35 billion in our own infrastructure, creating jobs and investments.
Can we afford, not to go to renewables?
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