Hawaii’s clean energy initiative

Hawaii is already ahead of a lot of places when it comes to solar energy. The government is entering into a an agreement with private industry to install solar panels on government facilities, and Costco just converted some of their businesses in paradise to solar.

Hawaii was the 2nd state in the US to establish a cap on greenhouse gases. On the islands research is being conducted to turn algae into biofuels, garbage is used to create electricity, wind and solar plants are going in and companies are installing geothermal plants to take advantage of the volcanic activities. The Hawaiian Clean Energy Initiative comes as no real surprise…although it is welcome news.

According to the agreement Hawaii would get at least 70 PERCENT of their energy from renewable sources by 2030.

“This innovative, unprecedented partnership builds on the progress the state has made to increase energy independence by decreasing Hawai’i’s reliance on imported oil,” Gov. Linda Lingle said in a news conference today. “Our islands’ abundant natural sources of energy, combined with the considerable capabilities of the Department of Energy, will help Hawai’i lead America in utilizing clean, renewable energy technologies.”

The plan calls for converting the smaller islands to 100 percent renewable and the utilization of local crops for producing energy.

The plan also draws upon information from federal agencies and research laboratories to develop solar, wind, and biofuel solutions to the islands energy needs. The eventual goal is to make Hawaii one of the worlds first clean energy economies.

Anyone who has ever spent time in Hawaii understands that just about everything you get on the Islands carries with it the costs of transportation. So much more than in more conventional states fuel has to be transported great distances and has the dubious distinction of having the country’s highest prices at the pump. To repeat a much overused cliché, “necessity is the mother of invention.” While we here on the mainland may not have the drastic need that Hawaii has, we will eventually benefit from the advances made by them.

Google gets it: Making renewable energy cheaper than coal

Let’s face it. With any type of energy source, it all comes down to two important things. How much is available, and how much does it cost? If a renewable energy source can’t scale up to provide massive amounts of energy, and it isn’t cost competitive, then it just isn’t going to happen.

So what do you do?

You work to make renewable energy cheaper than the default choice for 40 percent of the world’s electricity — coal.

Google today announced a new strategic initiative to develop electricity from renewable energy sources that will be cheaper than electricity produced from coal. The newly created initiative, known as RE<C, will focus initially on advanced solar thermal power, wind power technologies, enhanced geothermal systems and other potential breakthrough technologies.  RE<C is hiring engineers and energy experts to lead its research and development work, which will begin with a significant effort on solar thermal technology, and will also investigate enhanced geothermal systems and other areas. In 2008, Google expects to spend tens of millions on research and development and related investments in renewable energy. As part of its capital planning process, the company also anticipates investing hundreds of millions of dollars in breakthrough renewable energy projects which generate positive returns. 

Working with RE<C, Google.org will make strategic investments and grants that demonstrate a path toward producing energy at an unsubsidized cost below that of coal-fired power plants. Google will work with a variety of organizations in the renewable energy field, including companies, R&D laboratories, and universities.

Read the full release from Google here.

Read the BBC story about Google here.