Hawaii Moves Towards Energy Independence

Located 2,575 miles from California’s coast, Hawaii depends on the twice weekly arrival of oil tankers for its fueling needs. In light of this fact, the Senate Energy Committee recently approved a $1 million ethanol demonstration project for the 50th state. These funds will help Hawaii comply with a new state law requiring that 85% of all gas sold on the islands contain 10% ethanol. Despite the abundance of sugar cane, Hawaii has not yet developed its own ethanol industry. It has subsequently relied on imported ethanol to comply with the new law. The $1 million will give the state the ability to research and develop sugar-to-ethanol production.In related news, Shell WindEnergy recently announced plans for a wind farm on Maui. If approved the wind farm would occupy a corner of the 20,000 acre Ulupalakua Ranch. This site was chosen because of strong winds and a minimal visual impact. The first phase of the project, which is scheduled for completion in 2008, could provide up to 40 megawatts of power, enough to power thousands of homes on the island. Preliminary plans suggest that this wind farm will incorporate hydroelectric power. Pumped hydro storage technology would be used to store power from the wind turbines during off-peak times. The stored power could then be used to meet demands during peak periods. Hawaii's Governor, Linda Lingle said: "This is great news for Ulupalakua Ranch, Maui and Hawaii. It is an important step toward reducing Hawaii's dependence on imported fossil fuel and meeting our goal of having 20 percent of our energy come from renewable sources by the year 2020." See also ::New Turbine To Make Wind Power Cheaper and Easier To Install