Renewable Energy Types in Hawaii

Renewable Energy Options in Hawaii
Solar isn’t the only renewable energy source available and being deployed in Hawaii. There are a variety of renewable, clean energy sources.

Holu Hou Energy is dedicated to making the sun a usable resource for daily life. Solar isn’t the only renewable energy source available and being deployed in Hawaii, however. A wide variety of leading technologies are turning renewable, clean energy into usable energy. Top solutions in use today include solar, wind, geothermal, ocean, hydroelectric, and biomass energy.

Hawaii must already rely on imported fuel due to its more isolated location. This need has prompted the state to become one of the forefront consumers of renewable energy. As reported by USA Today, 1 in 3 residents use rooftop solar, and 15% of new cars on the market are electric. This puts Hawaii one step closer to the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative’s goal to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels and reach 100% clean energy by 2045.

All energy sources have challenges and benefits. The energy types in practice across Hawaii are outlined below.

Solar Energy

Hawaii has been a leader in solar energy for many years. By harnessing light from the sun, solar energy is unique because it does not use moving turbines or steam.  Solar in Hawaii is used in residential homes and commercial buildings, in multi-dwelling units through Holu Hou Energy’s HoluPower xP Energy Storage System with EnergyShare Technology, and in large-scale “farms” that generate power for utility companies. Continual research is being done to increase the usage of solar across the islands.

Notably, the Kapolei Energy Storage facility, a 185 MW battery energy storage system, utilizes eight acres of land to house giant solar batteries that connect to Hawaii’s electrical grid.

Main Benefit: Hawaii is known for its sunny days, which makes solar an efficient energy generator.

Top Challenge: Space for solar panel installation, whether on rooftops for residential installations or on land for industrial farms, can be limited, and they do not produce at the same level during rainy days and nighttime hours.

Wind Energy

Wind energy is a popular and extremely clean way to generate electricity. Large blades collect the wind’s kinetic energy, which is transferred to an electric generator. Wind turbine farms are already in place across Hawaii, accounting for a reported 8.1% of total energy sales. Experts are now investigating the feasibility of offshore, floating wind turbines to work around limited space issues.

Main Benefit: Wind energy is one of the cleanest production methods. It does not produce toxic emissions or contribute to climate change.

Top Challenge: Wind farms can be dangerous to seabirds, including multiple endangered species that reside in Hawaii. Onshore farms also require a large amount of land to operate.

Geothermal Energy

Hawaii is famous for its volcanoes, but the people of Hawaii could get more from the volcanoes that make up their homes. Heat stored in underground water reservoirs is heated by volcanoes, producing steam. The steam can be harnessed by a turbine, thus generating electricity.

Main Benefit: Volcanos already exist in Hawaii and are constantly available. This energy type does not fluctuate.

Top Challenge: Energy turbines must be in very specific locations to harness steam. This process may also release underground gases more quickly and potentially cause earthquakes.

Ocean and Wave Energy

Alongside volcanos, Hawaii is also not short on ocean access. The ocean, too, can generate power with mechanical (wave motion) and thermal (temperature differences) operations. Mechanical generation is being tested by the Navy, the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, and the US Department of Energy with the Wave Energy Test Site off the coast of Kaneohe Marine Corps Base. Similar to geothermal energy, thermal generation is thought to be able to use temperature differences to run a steam-powered turbine. Deep-sea, cold seawater could also be used in the future for renewable air conditioning strategies.

Main Benefit: Ocean power is available 24/7 since the ocean is always producing waves.

Top Challenge: Wave energy, or kinetic energy, can be more difficult to convert into usable form than methods like solar energy, and structures for generating the power may negatively impact marine life.

Hydroelectric Power

Streams, rivers, and other sources of flowing water are a natural element for producing energy popular across the globe. Their history in Hawaii goes as far back as the late 1800s. There are currently operational hydroelectric power stations across the Hawaiian Islands. Free-flowing water spins turbines to generate electricity, and the amount generated depends on factors such as water volume and speed.

Main Benefit: A stable source of energy that can be used to support solar and wind efforts.

Top Challenge: Hydroelectric plants can disrupt the natural flow of water, affecting animals and water quality. Natural occurrences, including droughts, also affect the resource.

Biomass and Biofuels

Biofuels are renewable fuels created from organic matter— “biomass.” Organic material can include everything from wood, algae, and grass to animal fat and grease. In Hawaii, a popular source of biomass is sugar cane residue left after the sugar is extracted. Biomass can be burned to create the steam that powers a turbine or converted into liquid biofuels, including biodiesel and biogas, which can replace petroleum. 

Main Benefit: Existing power plants and generation units use natural gas, which can be modified to use biofuel.

Top Concern: Biomass energy plants require a great deal of space, as well as energy to transport materials. This renewable energy source also releases carbon dioxide.

Want to be part of the renewable energy revolution? Solar is in your reach with Holu Hou Energy. We will help you get set up to store the sun’s energy for use so you can save money and contribute to a greener state. Contact us today to learn more or to get started with solar storage solutions.