Kauai, Hawaii. Photo: Fernando Espinosa / Shutterstock
Hawaii wants to show the world the bright future of renewable energy. It already generates more solar power per person than any other state, and is making a strong commitment to solar power and energy storage for a future without fossil fuels.
Hawaii is an ecological paradise in the Pacific Ocean, one of the smallest states in the United States (1.4 million inhabitants), also the most remote. But in addition, it is also one of the states most dependent on fossil fuels. The reason is found in its remote location, isolated in the Pacific Ocean.
The state’s economy is highly dependent on tourism and the military, and such is the demand from military facilities and commercial airlines that jet fuel makes up a larger share of total oil consumption in Hawaii, greater than anywhere else. state of the United States except Alaska, based on data from the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Hawaii has long been the testing ground for the solar industry, now it is reaping its rewards.
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Hawaiian government launched the clean energy initiative in 2008, where it committed to adopting ecological and sustainable measures, since all the electricity used by the state in 2045 would be 100% renewable, as California has legislated.
So Hawaii offers a “preview” of what other states could do as the United States moves faster and faster toward renewable energy than many experts anticipated at the time. A large-scale experiment from which much learning can be drawn to apply to much larger state projects. If it works out well in Hawaii, it can be quickly replicated elsewhere.
After being very ambitious in relation to renewable energy for electricity generation, Hawaii now wants to make its land transport, one of the great consumers of fossil fuels, more sustainable.
For starters, four mayors have pledged to make their public transportation system 100% carbon neutral.
President Donald Trump decided to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, which wants to keep the planet’s temperature, due to global warming, below 2ºC and, if possible, below 1.5ºC.
Soon after, Hawaii became the first state to make climate change an official government fight, prompting the island’s governor, David Ige, to affirm: “ Climate change is real, regardless of what they say. the others “.
Image: Hawaii State Energy Office.
Hawaii’s commitment to the environment is such that it currently has more than 60 green energy projects underway, including nine wind farms, 19 hydroelectric plants and 22 solar energy farms. In addition, it obtains 33% of its electricity from rooftop solar installations. There are days when Hawaii approaches 60% of its energy that comes from renewable sources.
Solar rooftops in Hawaii. Photo: Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock
According to the Hawaii State Office of Energy, these projects together are capable of generating approximately 156 million kilowatt hours of energy per month, or enough to power 314,600 Hawaiian homes for the next 20 years.
The island of Kauai, located northwest of the capital Honolulu, is home to 15 of these sustainable projects, including a major solar farm installed by Tesla and the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative.
The project consists of 54,978 solar panels with 13 megawatts of solar generating capacity, and Tesla has also installed 272 Powerwall 2 battery systems to store solar surplus for night use.