Hawaii pledges to reach 100% renewable energy by 2045

When trying to figure out a more sustainable world, we often end up imagining a scenario in which traditional houses are replaced by fluctuating shuttles, people nourish themselves with plant-based pills and cars move along multilevel highways, thanks to solar energy.

Even though most of these things are far from becoming a reality, just last month Hawaii passed a law that promises to attain one of the most ambitious goals towards a greener future in the history of the US and the world.

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Governor David Ige has signed a bill, previously drafted by Blue Planet Foundation, that states Hawaii will reach 100% renewable energy by 2045. This is, for all intensive purposes, a very achievable feat, given that Hawaii currently produces about 22% of its electricity from renewable sources of energy, such as wind, solar and geothermal.


So how does this affect South Africa? In Hawaii, the cost of electricity has reached such vertiginous peaks that switching to renewables will not only benefit the environment, but will also reduce the cost of electricity for residents and business owners. In fact, once fossil fuels are ultimately eliminated, the cost of electricity will no longer depend on floating oil prices. This is an admirable solution, which the South African government should look to as an example, with the more and more complex load shedding issue and constantly increasing electricity fees. In the meantime – have a look at our Metro load shedding and off-grid solutions for homes in the Western Cape.


To ensure that Hawaii meets its goal, the afore-mentioned bill has an interim requirement of achieving a 30% renewable energy target by 2020 and 70% by 2040. According to Blue Planet Foundation, if the Aloha state fails to reach it they will be fined and forced to pay two cents for each kilowatt hour of excess fossil fuel electricity.


Here is a short list of some of the forms of renewable energy that Hawaii is currently, or could potentially take advantage of: 


1. Solar energy

Another abundant source of energy in Hawaii is the sunlight, which can be harnessed in many ways, the most applicable of which include: 

  •       Photovoltaic systems

  •     Solar hot water

  •     Concentrating solar power systems

  •   Passive solar design and daylighting


2. Wind Energy

Achieving the goal of 70% clean energy by 2030 should be a breeze for Hawaii thanks to wind resources, which play an important role in the state’s clean energy initiative. Wind power is renewable, endless and plentiful on Hawaii’s islands. Wind turbines can be used as stand-alone applications - typically exploited for water pumping or communications - or can be connected to a utility power grid. Unlike other sources of electricity, wind turbines have a lower impact on wildlife (no air or water pollution) and are surprisingly quiet.


3. Biomass Energy

Biomass Energy or “bioenergy”, is derived from plants and plant-derived materials. Humankind has exploited it since we began burning wood to cook food and to keep warm. Wood is still the largest biomass source, although there are many other important sources such as crops, grassy or woody plants, and the organic component of municipal and industrial wastes. Its use provides a wide array of benefits to Hawaii, such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and of the dependence on foreign oil, as well as having the added advantage of boosting the agricultural industry.      

     

4. Geothermal Energy 

Geothermal energy exploits the heat that can be drawn from hot water or steam reservoirs within the Earth. There are three main applications: Geothermal direct use - producing heat directly from hot water within the Earth, Geothermal electricity production - generating electricity from the Earth’s heat, and finally Geothermal heat pumps - using the shallow ground to heat and cool buildings


Currently, solar water heaters have been placed in some 80,000 homes and institutions throughout the state and the number is bound to increase. Furthermore, photovoltaic power systems are very popular on rooftops of residences and commercial buildings.


A quick glance at any form of news, social media or political agenda will reinforce how very often mankind talks about the world needing to ‘go greener’ and be more environmentally friendly (including President Obama who has just unveiled his plan to cut power plant emissions), yet far too often that is where the discussion ends. It is a breath of fresh air to finally see a nation standing up and making a change on an impactful level. Let us hope that other countries around the globe, South Africa included, follow suit.


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