Air Pollution as a Climate Forcing: A Workshop
Day 3 Presentations
Hawaii: Energy, the Environment, and the Economy
Maurice H. Kaya
Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, Honolulu, HI, U.S.A.
Hawaii's citizens are concerned about protecting Hawaii's environment, especially in recognizing that minimizing pollution and preserving the State's beauty is important to their health and quality of life. Fortunately, Hawaii generally does not have to contend with serious air pollution problems. However, Hawaii's environment is the basis of the visitor industry -- our most important employer and source of earnings. Like any island location, global climate change poses significant risks to Hawaii, and there is growing awareness of some of the threats. On a global scale Hawaii's actions to deal with climate change are relatively insignificant, but this paper demonstrates that integrated actions to maintain air quality and prevent environmental degradation are underway.
Domestic historical and projected emissions in Hawaii are driven largely by consumption of energy derived from fossil fuels, and any reduction in Hawaii's contribution to global warming potential will require major action. The electricity sector comprises some 47 per cent of the global warming potential and is therefore the subject of most of the attention to reduce greenhouse gases (Figure 1).
As Figure 2 shows, Hawaii is using a variety of renewable energy sources in efforts to reduce the use of oil, specifically a wide variety of renewable energy resources have been deployed in the electricity delivery system. These include biomass, geothermal, wind, solar, and run-of-the-river hydroelectric.
Hawaii's continued overdependence on imported oil creates a number of economic concerns. Approximately $1.4 billion flowed out of Hawaii's economy in 2000 to pay for oil. The volatility of oil markets can inflict price shocks with negative economic effects, and high oil use contributes to Hawaii having the highest statewide average electricity costs in the nation.
As we have developed our sustainable energy program over the years, we have also attempted to integrate our actions with definitive local steps to address global climate change. In collaboration with the EPA we have completed inventories of greenhouse gases and developed a climate change action plan. The Plan was intended as a catalyst for discussion to stimulate future efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to any climate change effects that occur. The major recommendation of this first plan was to develop consensus on goals to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions.
We have encountered many challenges in implementing these recommendations in the electricity sector. For example, the utility controls market conditions, so private renewable energy projects must compete with utility projects and secure contracts from the regulated monopoly utility. Project funding has been difficult to obtain so the state actively seeks partnerships and assistance. There are also many uncertainties regarding possible future electricity system restructuring, so the state has encouraged the adoption of renewable energy portfolio standards and net metering.
Additional policies have been promoted to support renewable energy and distributed generation, which tend to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Noteworthy is a recent legislative act that directs the State of Hawaii and other stakeholders to work on developing hydrogen as an energy source. Hydrogen could be used in fuel cells and be part of a distributed energy system in Hawaii, and a future is envisioned whereby hydrogen derived from plentiful supplies of renewable energy produces hydrogen that is exported to energy-short parts of the country.
At present we are embarking on a major program to achieve this vision by developing a Gateway Center for Distributed Energy Resources on the Big Island of Hawaii. This center, which is supported by the federal Department of Energy, will showcase distributed generation technologies in a real world environment. The Big Island is an ideal location for these applications and deployment schemes because of its insularity, high energy costs, electric transmission service challenges, and the availability of renewable energy resources that exceed service requirements on the island. Our ultimate hope is that the successful use of distributed renewable energy on the island will allow the use of renewable hydrogen to resolve energy delivery problems for both stationary and mobile energy demands. This success will help to address similar issues on a much larger scale for the entire nation.
In conclusion, the State of Hawaii, in its efforts to maintain its spectacular natural environment and quality of life, is proceeding with dispatch to address climate issues through progressive development and application of sustainable energy technologies. The state demonstrates that a locale does not need to be driven by critical air pollution degradation problems to effectively deploy clean energy technologies.