Energy in Hawaii

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hawi wind farm near Hāwī, Hawai'i, the Big Island. The wind farm has 16 Vestas V47-660 kW wind turbines for a total nameplate capacity of 10.56  MW.

Energy in Hawaii is complicated by the state's isolated location and lack of fossil fuel resources. The state relies heavily on imports of petroleum and coal for power although renewable energy is increasing. Hawaii has the highest share of petroleum use in the United States, with about 62% of electricity coming from oil in 2017. [1] As of 2016, 26.6% of electricity was from renewable sources, including solar, wind, hydro and geothermal. [2]

Hawaii has the highest electricity prices in the United States. As of 2016 the average cost of electricity was $0.24 per kilowatt-hour, followed by Alaska at $0.19. The U.S. average was $0.10. [3]


Hawaii energy consumption 2016.png

Hawaii's primary energy consumption is dominated by oil, which in 2016 provided 83% (down from 85.0% in 2008 and 99.7% in 1960). Other sources in 2016 included coal (5.6%) and renewable energy (11.2%). [4] In 2017, sources of renewable power were: [5]

2017 Renewable power
Distributed PV 33.50%
Utility-scale PV 4.90%
Wind 26.60%
Hydro 3.60%
Geothermal 10.50%
Biofuels 1.60%
Biomass 19.20%

Government support for renewable energy

Wind and solar capacity for current and planned projects in Hawaii as of January 2020


Hawaii allows solar energy facilities to be located on less-productive agricultural lands. HB 3179 made it easier for biofuel producers to lease state lands. SB 3190 and HB 2168 authorized special purpose revenue bonds to help finance a solar energy facility on Oahu and hydrogen generation and conversion facilities at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, located on Hawaii island.

In 2010 SB644 mandated solar water heaters for new construction. The bill excluded homes located in areas with poor solar energy resources, homes using other renewable energy sources, and homes employing on-demand gas-fired water heaters. The bill eliminated solar thermal energy tax credits for homes. [6]

SB988 allowed the Hawaii Public Utility Commission to establish a rebate for photovoltaic systems, and HB2550 encouraged net metering for residential and small commercial customers.

In 2008 HB 2863 provided streamlined permitting for new renewable energy facilities of at least 200 megawatts capacity. HB 2505 created a full-time renewable energy facilitator to help the state expedite permits. HB 2261 provided loans of up to $1.5 million and up to 85% of the cost of renewable energy projects at farms and aquaculture facilities.

Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative

On January 28, 2008, the State of Hawaii and the US Department of Energy signed a memorandum of understanding [7] and announced the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, which has a goal to use renewable energy to supply 70 percent or more of Hawaii's energy needs by 2030. [8] [9]

The Initiative will focus on working with public and private partners on clean energy projects including: designing cost-effective approaches for 100 percent use of renewable energy on smaller islands, designing systems to improve stability of electrical grids operating with variable generating sources, such as wind power plants on the Island of Hawaii and Maui, and expanding Hawaii's capability to use locally grown crops as byproducts for producing fuel and electricity. [10]

Partners include United States Department of Energy - EERE, the state of Hawaii, Hawaiian Electric Company, Phoenix Motorcars and Better Place.

Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority

The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority is a test site for experimental renewable energy generation methods and pilot plants for them. Originally built to test Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), it later added research into other sustainable uses of natural energy sources such as aquaculture, biofuel from algae, solar thermal energy, concentrating solar and wind power.

Energy use by sector


The electric Honolulu Rail Transit network, originally expected to begin operation in late 2020, [11] as of 2019 was scheduled for 2025 at the earliest. [12]


Sources of electricity on the Big Island.

95% of the population in Hawaii is supplied by Hawaiian Electric Industries. Kauai is instead supplied by the consumer-owned Kauai Island Utility Cooperative. As of 2018, the total dispatchable capacity is 1,727 MW, and the intermittent generation capacity is 588 MW. [13] Each island generates its own power. [14]


Most of the electricity in Hawaii is produced from oil.

Solar power

Solar power in Hawaii grew quickly as photovoltaic panel prices dropped putting household energy generation below the cost of purchased electricity. In 2013, Hawaii was second only to Arizona in per capita solar power and about 10% of Oahu customers had solar panels. Several utility scale solar farms exist along with distributed household generation. In 2017, solar power produce 38.4% of the state's electricity[ citation needed].

The island of Kauai has an abundance of solar energy, and installed batteries to permit renewable energy to be used at night. [15]

As of March 2020, 916 MW of solar generating capacity was installed. [16]

Wind power

Kaheawa Wind Power

Hawaii has strong, consistent winds. Wind power in Hawaii generated 6.4% of total electricity generation in 2015. [5] Hawaii began research into wind power in the mid-1980s with a 340 kW turbine on Maui, the 2.3MW Lalamilo Wells wind farm on Oahu and the 9 MW Kamaoa wind farm on Hawaii Island. [17] The MOD-5B, a 3.2 MW wind turbine, on Oahu was the largest in the world in 1987. These early examples were all out of service by 2010. As of 2017 Hawaii has 114 commercial wind turbines in the state with a total capacity of 206 MW.[ citation needed]


Hawaii has several biomass electric plants including the 10 MW Honolulu International Airport Emergency Power Facility, the 6.7 MW Green Energy Agricultural Biomass-to-Energy Facility on Kauai, and the 6.6 MW waste-to-energy Honua Power Project on Oahu. The 21.5 MW Hu Honua plant came online in 2016. [18] Wärtsilä sold Hawaii Electric to be installed at Schofield Barracks Army Base on Oahu in 2017. The plant can run on solid or gas fuels including biomass. [19]


Hawaii has banned new coal plants. [20] One plant operates in the state, AES Hawaii Power Plant, which generates 180 MWe. [21] The plant is expected to close by September 2022. [22]

Wave power

The U.S. Navy and the University of Hawaii operate a Wave Energy Test Site in Kaneohe Bay. [23]

A pilot wave energy project Azura concluded a six week test in the north shore of Kaneohe Bay, Oahu in 2012.


The Puna Geothermal Venture was constructed on the island of Hawaii between 1989 and 1993. It operated until May 2018 when it was shut down due to the 2018 lower Puna eruption.

Algae fuel

Cellana produces oil from algae at a 2.5 hectares (6.2 acres) research site at Kailua-Kona on Hawaii island. Microalgae have significant potential as an energy crop, with the levels of oil production per acre potentially far exceeding that of vegetable oil crops. Cellana (previously called HR BioPetroleum) worked with Royal Dutch Shell on a pilot facility to grow algae on land leased from the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, which is located on the west shore of Hawaii island.

See also


  1. ^ Popovich, Nadja (2018-12-24). "How Does Your State Make Electricity?". The New York Times. ISSN  0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-02-18.
  2. ^ "Hawaii Energy Facts & Figures" (PDF). Hawaii State Energy Office. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  3. ^ U.S. Energy Information Administration. Electric Power Monthly, Table 5.6.A. Average Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers by End-Use Sector by State, October 2016 and 2015, December 23, 2016.
  4. ^ "Hawaii - State Energy Profile Overview - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)". Retrieved 2019-04-13.
  5. ^ a b "2017 Energy Facts and Figures" (PDF). June 2018.
  6. ^ Homebuilders skirt solar law More than 20% of new homes use loophole to avoid adding solar, Honolulu Star Advertiser, Alan Yonan Jr., Jan 09, 2011
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-27. Retrieved 2012-08-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title ( link)
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Rail Facts - All FAQ's | Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation". Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  12. ^ Cook Lauer, Nancy (December 24, 2018). "Honolulu Rail Project Struggles to Stay on Track".
  13. ^ "Power Facts".
  14. ^ "Can Hawaii go 100% Renewable?". January 12, 2017.
  15. ^ Geuss, Megan (March 8, 2017). "Kauai is moving from diesel generators to renewable energy with help from Tesla". Ars Technica.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Wind Energy Archived 2015-06-04 at the Wayback Machine, Hawaiian Electric Company, 2013
  18. ^ Work resumes at Hu Honua; CEO: ‘We are now fully back on site’ Archived 2015-02-05 at the Wayback Machine, West Hawaii Today, January 15, 2015
  19. ^ Wartsila to provide 50 MW plant to bioenergy project in Hawaii, Biomass Magazine, Erin Voegele, December 02, 2014
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 27, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title ( link)
  21. ^ "Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2006" (Excel). Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy. 2006. Retrieved 2008-07-14.
  22. ^ "Hawaiian Electric plans for 2022 closing of Oahu coal plant". Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis. 2019-04-04. Retrieved 2020-01-27.