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 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?
"Ending the Oil Addiction in Paradise"
The state of Hawaii wants to reduce oil use by 70 percent, but no one knows how to do it.
"We're in a death match," says Mark Duda, president of the Hawaii Solar Energy Association, which is in a heated battle with the Hawaiian utility over the terms of a new subsidy that's meant to encourage renewable energy installations. It's a key part of the state's ambitious effort to use 70 percent clean energy by 2030. Other states and island nations are keeping a close eye on what's happening here: Hawaii could be an almost ideal laboratory for understanding how to incorporate vast amounts of renewable energy into the power grid.
Tonight the "death match" seems more like a friendly rivalry: one of Duda's main opponents is standing next to him, Peter Rosegg, an amiable tanned man who represents the Hawaiian Electric Company, who sees working at the utility as a chance to be "doing good." As a group stands around drinking beers at a reception in an art gallery, he and Duda banter and joke, but there's a strong undercurrent of seriousness. The stakes are high. If the terms are right for the proposed subsidy, a feed-in tariff, it could lead to an explosion of solar installations in Hawaii, helping the island state use one of its main resources--sunshine--to escape its almost exclusive dependence on oil for its electricity and transportation. A supertanker arrives every week to keep the island running. "If the ships don't come, we're stuck," says Linda Lingle, the governor of Hawaii, who has spearheaded efforts to use more renewable energy. "We have no choice but to make this shift."
Yet if solar does take off, it could be a nightmare for the utility. The state is known for its brilliant rainbows, induced by the brief bursts of rain and mist in one area, while the sun shines brilliantly nearby. As clouds moved quickly overhead, power output from solar panels will plunge and then soar again, creating a variable supply of power that the utility can't control. "We're the ones responsible for reliability," Rosegg says. "We're the ones who get the calls when there's a problem with the power."
The debate rages on because no one has concrete data about just how much solar the Hawaiian grid can take and still remain stable. Decisions are being based on models and theories, with speculations about what might go wrong. The utility wants to play it safe, and set relatively low levels for the feed-in tariff subsidy, to moderate the introduction of solar power. But that could make it harder for the state to meet its goals. The state will have to rely more on wind, another variable resource, but one that the utility will have more control over. (It can control how much power it lets onto the grid from a wind farm, but not from hundreds or thousands of distributed solar installations.) The utility also wants to use rely more on biofuels to power its oil-fired power plants. This would give the utility what it calls "firm" power, because these oil power plants aren't vulnerable to passing clouds and changes to the wind. And biofuels could displace the oil used for cars and planes as well. But it's not clear the islands can generate enough biofuel economically to reach the state's targets--there isn't very much land here to work with. One of the biofuel sources that could be grown in high density here--algae-- has been notoriously expensive so far. Another abundant renewable source, geothermal energy, has faced opposition from some Hawaiians on cultural and religious grounds, and faces some technical challenges. Harvesting thermal energy from the ocean is also a hope--it could provide steady power, but it's very expensive to do, and no one has proved it can work on a large scale.
It's not at all clear how Hawaii will meet its goals--or even if it can in the time frame it's set up. But what happens here is worth keeping an eye on. The high electricity prices here (about two to five times the price on the mainland), and the real need to diversify the islands sources of energy, are providing the motivation that many of the mainland states lack. And if Hawaii can solve some of the problems around renewables, it could make it easier to introduce them at a very large scale elsewhere.
Read the original article at MIT Technology Review here .....
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