Hawaii To Go! (100% Renewable by 2040)

With its abundant solar, wind, geothermal and tidal energy resources, the island state of Hawaii is planning to become the first state in the United States of America to be powered entirely by renewable energy by 2040.

In April 2015, Hawaii’s assembly voted unanimously in favor of increasing its current Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) of 21% to 70% by 2030 and to 100% by 2040.

The move will be an enormous shift for the island where till as recently as 2009, 90% of the electricity came from coal and oil. In fact, expensive oil currently accounts for more than two thirds of the state’s electricity generation. In comparison, elsewhere in the US oil accounts for less than 1% of power generation.

Also, because Hawaii imports nearly all of its oil consumption – and given its distance of nearly 3,800 miles from the mainland – the energy cost and electricity prices are the highest out of all the 50 states.

Renewable Energy in Hawaii –  Fast Transition To Clean Energy

However, over the last decade the situation has changed considerably. Renewables have become ever more competitive and attractive. The share of renewables in the state’s power generation has grown to 12%, with solar energy (rooftop solar systems) having done especially well.

Wind is another steady source of renewable energy that will witness significant capacity addition. In 2013, it accounted for 42% of the island’s total utility scale renewable power generation.

However, it can do a lot more. As estimated by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Hawaii has the potential of installing up to 3,000 MW of wind energy projects – a number that in itself is large enough to supply all of the state’s energy demand.

There are, of course, several lessons to learn for India as well. With our enormous solar (748 GW) and wind energy potential (50 GW at 50m height, 100 GW at 100m height) , India could also power a huge chunk of its power demand from clean energy sources.

However, what is needed to make India’s clean energy vision reality is active participation from the private sector (backed by policies and financing mechanisms), a steady increase in Renewable Purchase Obligations (with government support to utilities) and innovative policy mechanisms to encourage the participation of a wide array of renewable power developers.

For more information on Hawaii’s energy transition, click here.

Aniruddha Bhattacharjee
Aniruddha Bhattacharjee
Aniruddha has been a renewable energy researcher and report writer for over 3 years. He has also been a content developer for multiple websites, including portals on travel and tourism, restaurants and personal finance. He holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and a master's in endangered species conservation. Apart from renewable energy, Aniruddha is a keen motor sports and aviation enthusiast, and a beginner in photography.
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