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Renewable Energy in Hawai'i

Nearly 95% of the energy consumed in the State of Hawai‘i comes from imported fossil fuels. Hawai‘i residents pay among the highest prices in the nation for gasoline, residential fuel, and electricity. A major component of the energy demand mix in the state is the transportation sector, which uses about 22% of the total imported petroleum or 450 million gallons per annum.

Hawai‘i has a mandate to move towards ethanol. The state will start by replacing 10% of petroleum fuels (E10) and will eventually replace 20% of petroleum fuels with ethanol (E20) by 2020. Thus, requirement for in-state use in the transportation sector alone will require over 90 million gallons of ethanol assuming consumption at today's levels (450 million gallons).

Currently all ethanol is sourced from outside the state. Hawai‘i BioEnergy could eventually provide over 100% of all future ethanol required for E20 fuels consumed in Hawai‘i plus a significant percentage of energy for the utility sector as well.

The geographical characteristics of the Hawaiian Islands, being remote and isolated from continental masses, give rise to unique problems relating to energy supply and security. This high dependence on imported petroleum has many deleterious effects on Hawai‘i’s economy and environment:

  • Fuel payments leave the local economy, limiting the creation of jobs and strengthening of the state’s economy.
  • Hawai‘i is extremely vulnerable to oil embargoes, supply disruptions, and other energy emergencies.
  • Environmental risks such as the potential for catastrophic damage to the fragile island ecosystem from oil spills are increased.

Hawai‘i can overcome its dependence on foreign oil by developing an island based biomass industry. Hawai‘i's climate and year-round growing conditions are ideal for producing biomass and large tracts of lands are available (in some cases from defunct sugarcane operations) throughout the Islands for growing. In light of the above, securing alternative energy sources, such as wind, geothermal, solar and biomass has been a high priority in the energy strategy of the State of Hawaii. Hawai‘i BioEnergy is helping to secure Hawai‘i's economic and environmental future.