Pursuing Energy Improvements For Our Next Generations - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Author

Richard Ha

Big Island resident Richard Ha is president of Sustainable Energy Hawaii and author of “What Would Our Kupuna Do?”

There’s been a positive step forward in preparing Hawaii Island for a green hydrogen economy.

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The PUC has approved a new power purchase agreement between Hawaii Electric Light Company on the Big Island and Puna Geothermal Venture. In about 18 months, when PGV’s upgrade is complete, the geothermal plant will increase its energy production from 38 megawatt to 46 MW.

Creating more lower-cost renewable energy, not tied to the price of oil, will reduce the need to use fossil fuels to generate electricity. It will also lower consumers’ electricity bills.

And significantly, it will make inexpensive electricity available for five potential hydrogen electric refueling stations around the island.

Millennium Reign Energy says it can set up five hydrogen electric refueling stations around Hawaii island if hydrogen is available at 10 cents per kilowatt hour. And now, thanks to the new power purchase agreement, it will be.

Here’s how it breaks down: HELCO will buy 20 MW of PGV’s output, and the remaining 26 MW will be curtailed to stand by for emergency use. HELCO’s weighted average cost is around 6 cents/kWh, and consumers will pay 5 cents/kWh for that curtailed energy.

Puna Geothermal Hawaii island1.
A new agreement between Puna Geothermal Venture and Hawaiian Electric’s Big Island subsidiary is good for consumers and the planet. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2018

If HELCO pays 6 cents/kWh and then charges MRE 10 cents/kWh, then that leaves 4 cents/kWh that can go toward lowering the overall cost to ratepayers.

Having hydrogen fueling stations also means HELCO can earn money from diesel vehicles.

Down the line, there will be the potential to make ammonia, a better, safer, and cheaper hydrogen carrier. Ammonia can replace fossil fuels in our old, oil-burning power plants. It’s a nitrogen fertilizer that would allow us to grow more of our own food, and cheaper. Ammonia could potentially replace bunker fuel in the world’s maritime industry.

We are pursuing these energy improvements not for ourselves but for our next generations. The lives of today’s young children, who we refer to as Keoki and Malia, will be better at 25 years old because of these improvements.

It’s a good thing all around for da rubbah slippah folks. Check out our Rubbah Slippah website, which just went live.

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About the Author

Richard Ha

Big Island resident Richard Ha is president of Sustainable Energy Hawaii and author of “What Would Our Kupuna Do?”

Latest Comments (0)

To help its rubber hit the road, a good thing for Da Rubbah Slippah Group to do is to connect with UH's Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI). HNEI has great depth of knowledge and experience with this subject matter. HNEI recently built a hydrogen fueling station at Natural Energy Laboratory Hawaiʻi Authority (NELHA) which is being used to fuel 3 County of Hawaiʻi Mass Transit Agency buses. HNEI might willing to help Rubbah Slippah with feasability and due diligence studies on what to do with excess and curtailed energy from geothermal and other sources. It's a complex subject that requires careful study before allocating a large amount of capital to any project.

Thrasybulus_of_Athens · 4 months ago

If a renewable energy source needs to be curtailed due to supply being genuinely greater than demand, than yes, using that "free" energy to make hydrogen, ammonia or something else is better than letting the excess energy go to waste. BTW, Hawaii, being an island state and therefore unable to transmit excess energy somewhere else, has one of the highest curtailment rates in the world, around 20%, on par with western China, which is remote and wind-rich.However, using that hydrogen as an automotive fuel is not the right approach (see the recent exhaustive study on this topic by the Volkswagen Group). Instead, it should be temporarily stored and converted back into electricity at night.

Chiquita · 4 months ago

I dont mind alternatives and we should do it, however, we cannot get away from fossil fuels as we have stopped the coal plant on the West Side of Oahu. It has raised our electric bill significantly here. Foolishness. Lets put all energy on the table.

Stopthemadness · 4 months ago

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