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FAQ

What is Hawai‘i BioEnergy?

Hawai‘i BioEnergy is a limited liability company established by three of Hawai‘i's largest landowners: Kamehameha Schools, Grove Farm Company Inc. and Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc. Other members include Khosla Ventures headed by Vinod Khosla, a nationally recognized leader in renewable energy policy; Finistere Ventures, a San Diego based venture capital firm specializing in the life sciences; and Ohana Holdings, the primary investment vehicle for Pierre Omidyar, the founder and chairman of eBay.

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What is Hawai‘i BioEnergy’s Mission?

This consortium has joined together to research the viability of renewable energy crops, products, and services in the state of Hawai‘i. HBE's goal is to improve energy security, reduce green house gas emissions and reduce energy costs in Hawai‘i by displacing imported fossil fuels with locally produced bio-fuels and other renewable energy sources.  The group has explored and will continue to research a variety of new cellulosic and other advanced processing technologies that allow for ethanol and bio-diesel to be refined from sugarcane, grasses, woody biomass, pineapple by-products, algae and other crops.

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How much land does this consortium control?

Kamehameha Schools owns 365,760 acres throughout the state, Grove Farm owns approximately 38,000 acres on the island of Kauai and Maui Land & Pineapple owns approximately 22,000 acres on the island of Maui. Together the three entities own over ten percent of the land in Hawai‘i (and a much larger percentage of arable land) with significant holdings on the islands of Maui, Kaua‘i, Oahu, and Hawai‘i.

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How much ethanol could Hawai‘i BioEnergy produce?

The amount of ethanol produced will depend on various market and legislative factors. Currently, the Hawai‘i State Legislature has mandated that all fuels contain at least ten percent ethanol (E-10). Hawai‘i BioEnergy is confident that will be able to meet that requirement and that it could eventually provide enough ethanol for the state under an E-20 requirement as cellulosic technologies are deployed.

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Are bio-fuels harmful to the environment?

Ethanol and other bio-fuels reduce greenhouse gas emissions in two ways. Bio-fuel crops take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as the crops are growing, offsetting greenhouse gases when fuel is burned. Also, ethanol at least helps reduce emissions of carbon monoxide and smog-forming organic compounds. Some studies have shown that ethanol reduces tailpipe carbon monoxide emissions and toxic emissions by as much as 30 percent. Bio-fuels mean cleaner and less toxic air that will reduce the risks of continued global warming and reduce the level of carcinogens in the environment. According to the Argonne National Lab, in 2005, ethanol in the U.S. reduced CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 7.8 million tons – that is equal to removing the annual emissions of more than 1.18 million cars. While the energy balance of corn ethanol is estimated to be relatively low at around 1.3 times the energy inputs, sugar ethanol has an energy balance of between 8 and 12 times the energy inputs depending on the agricultural model used to produce the fuel.

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