Hawaii’s plans to go all-green mean it’s one state down, fourty-nine to go.
image via (cc) flickr user asheshwor
The green energy revolution is in full swing. Look around and you’ll see entire cities—and even countries—committing themselves to renewable power in the coming decades. Advances in wind, solar, and even wave power technology have inspired communities to explore the process of weaning themselves off fossil fuels in favor of more ecologically sound sources of energy. And while the renewable power industry (or, industries, as the case may be) is still very much in flux as a whole, the continued momentum toward the adoption of green tech has moved the dream of environmentally friendly energy policy away from “wishful fantasy,” and well towards “plausible inevitability.”
Jumping to the fore of the green energy movement is Hawaii, where recently passed legislation has set the ball rolling for that state to become the first in the country to run on 100 percent renewable energy. The bill, HB632, states:
The legislature finds that Hawaii's dependency on imported fuel drains the State's economy of billions of dollars each year. A stronger local economy depends on a transition away from imported fuels and toward renewable local resources that provide a secure source of affordable energy.
The bill goes on to explain that it is, in essence, an update to Hawaii’s existing Clean Energy Initiative. That program was tasked with reducing the state’s current dependence on imported oil, for which Hawaii reportedly pays 175 percent above the national average. It has proven so successful that Hawaii reportedly garners 23 percent of its current electricity from clean energy sources like wind and solar power—well above the 2015 target of 15 percent, and ahead of schedule for plans to be 40 percent renewable energy reliant by the year 2030.
Bolstered by their Clean Energy Initiative’s unexpected success, Hawaiian legislators have set the ambitious goal of transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. To do so, their bill sets out a series of green energy benchmarks for all electrical utility vendors in the state: “30 percent by December 31, 2020, 70 percent by December 31, 2040, and 100 percent by December 31, 2045.” As Inhabitatreports, the state has turned to solar, wind, and hydroelectric power, as well as geothermal and biomass electricity, in order to reach their aspirational, eco-friendly goal.
image via (cc) via flickr user wolframburner
Which isn’t to say that Hawaii’s plans to be the first state in the country to go totally green are in any way a done deal. Anthony Kuh, who serves as the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Renewable Energy and Island Sustainability Group director explains to Scientific American, “We don’t probably have the technology today to do everything. We do have some time to do this.” In other words, the state is banking on the as-of-yet nonexistent energy collection, and storage technologies in order to achieve their 2045 goal. There is also pushback against the legislation coming from members of Hawaii’s powerful hotel industry, reportsThe Huffington Post. They view the renewable energy goal as interfering with their plans to use natural gas-powered generators to provide for their electrical needs.
Technological limitations and political considerations will certainly play into Hawaiian Governor David Ige’s thought process as he mulls signing the measure into state law. He has through the end of June to decide.