Hawaii ideal for wave energy By Rep. Cynthia Thielen

In the greasy wake of BP’s catastrophic Gulf oil spill, colleagues of mine at the state Legislature (Rep. Chris Lee and Sen. Gary Hooser) and the Sierra Club (Director Robert Harris) have called for an energy awakening at both the local and national levels.

They have done this with good reason: America’s unacceptable dependence on oil must change, and Hawaii is uniquely positioned to lead the charge.

It’s time to act, and here’s how we can begin:

The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative established the framework for reaching 70 percent clean energy in Hawaii by 2030 (40 percent of which will come from renewable sources).

Neighbor island wind farms and an interisland transmission cable are projected to play a major role.

Undoubtedly, this is a step in the right direction, but wind can only provide a portion of Hawaii’s energy needs. Furthermore, large wind farms consume valuable and finite real estate on neighbor islands to meet Oahu’s energy needs, affecting how that land is able to be used for other purposes.

For true revolution to occur, Hawaii’s energy intelligentsia — its lawmakers, academics, energy executives and administrators — must lead the way with bold, decisive actions that bring renewable technologies online now.

It is for precisely this reason that I have been a tenacious advocate for wave energy conversion in Hawaiian waters.

Hawaii’s wave energy resources are among the best on the planet, and wave energy converters situated offshore leave Hawaii’s finite land resources free for other uses. Due to the fact that ocean waves contain tremendous amounts of extractable energy, wave energy converters as a source of electricity have far more upside than older renewable energy technologies. In other words, while solar and wind have hit technological plateaus in terms of the amount of energy they are able to extract from the resources, wave energy systems will only become more powerful and efficient.

In January, nine countries — Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden and Ireland and the UK — announced plans to build a “supergrid.” The project relies upon considerable wave energy resources in the North Sea to realize its goals. The UK also has established a “wave hub” which is situated on the sea floor. Wave energy companies pay to plug their converters into the hub, where converted electricity is then transmitted to the electric grid.

These are exactly the kind of actions that policymakers across the nation need to take, and we in Hawaii should be the first to recognize that.

To start, the state should develop a wave hub in an appropriate area offshore of Oahu. The Energy Division of the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) has staff and initial seed money. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo. is preparing Hawaii’s wave resource assessment and concurrently completing its wave energy technology roadmap.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently funded an independent environmental analysis of wave energy technologies.

Furthermore, the DOE has $40 million in funding to test full-scale prototypes in Hawaii or Oregon.

We snooze, we lose out to the West Coast.

Wave energy technology has advanced to the point where companies in Europe are actively testing and fine-tuning their systems in advance of full-scale commercial operation. Exhaustive environmental, economic and technological analyses have been conducted, and data supports the conclusion that wave energy systems can be a major source of clean, reliable energy as the world moves away from fossil fuels for electricity generation.

Even a test facility following the UK’s Wave Hub model would represent major progress for Hawaii as it strives to move away from its dependence on oil and toward a sustainable future. A wave hub operated by DBEDT or the University of Hawaii could support multiple commercial scale systems, providing clean energy to thousands of homes and creating hundreds of jobs in support of the operations.

Ultimately, this potent, yet undeveloped energy resource can reliably provide the lion’s share of Hawaii’s clean energy mandate.

Gov. Linda Lingle and the Legislature have laid the groundwork by ratifying the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative and planning for Hawaii’s future. I am calling on our next administration to be even bolder, by making wave energy — and the transition from overdependence on oil — a top priority. It can do this by approaching wave energy conversion with the same zeal that’s been devoted to wind and the interisland cable.

Wake up and harness our ocean’s energy.

State Rep. Cynthia Thielen, R-50th, represents Kailua and Kaneohe Bay.


Community leaders call for action at climate change meeting in Honolulu

Jul 12, 2010 – 11:48 AM | by The Hawaii Independent Staff

 HONOLULU—Hawaii community leaders called for comprehensive climate change and clean energy legislation as the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force met in Honolulu last Friday.

The meeting provided an opportunity for senior members of the Obama administration to hear local and regional ideas, questions and concerns about ocean climate change, impacts in Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, and to describe federal planning efforts already underway. In January, the president’s Interagency Task Force on Ocean Policy also met in Honolulu to take public comment on its interim report on marine spatial planning and better coordination of ocean policy at the federal level.

Hawaii is especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The president is seeking federal action and support to safeguard public health, the economy, and our natural resources.

“I encourage the federal administration to help Hawaii develop its wave energy resources,” said state Representative Cynthia Thielen and member of CLEAN, the Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now. “Wave energy can provide 100 percent of the power needed by neighbor islands and 80 perce t of Oahu’s. We can quickly replace oil with energy from the constant and powerful ocean swells.”

“It’s time for a comprehensive focus on developing resilient habitats that can survive the impacts of climate change,” said Robert Harris, Director of Sierra Club, Hawaii Chapter. “For example, the federal government could look at acquiring and helping protect undeveloped coastal lands for human use and wildlife corridors, such as Mahaulepu on Kauai. Unfortunately, Hawaii will be ground zero for climate change. We have the greatest number of endangered species and one of the highest coastal populations per capita in the United States. We need a plan for the future.”

“We all share a spiritual responsibility as stewards of creation to preserve life for future generations,” said Rob Kinslow, Executive Coordinator for the Steering Committee of Hawaii Interfaith Power & Light. “Yet today we are risking our children’s lives, and ocean life, with a dangerous experiment with fossil fuels. The oceans, our islands, our people, our spiritual heritages are all connected. In the Gulf, liquid carbon deposited millions of years ago by processes that cleaned earth’s atmosphere of chemicals harmful to humans, is gushing into our oceans and onto coral reefs, beaches, and wetlands, threatening our children’s health, people’s livelihoods, and ocean life.”

“Funding is essential to protecting natural resources such as coral reefs, fisheries, coastlines, wildlife and habitat, forests, and watersheds from the impacts of climate change,” said Marjorie Ziegler, Executive Director of Conservation Council for Hawaii. “Natural resources adaptation needs its own dedicated funding that does not compete with infrastructure adaptation funds, and could come from a cap and trade program or other carbon related funding sources.”


State Representative Kymberly Pine provides congratulatory certificate to John Bond for facilitating inaugural Historic July 4th Ewa Train Ride featuring WWII Historian Ray Emory and National Park Historian Daniel Martinez; joined by elected officials from the Hawaii State House of Representatives Corinne Ching, Lynn Finnegan, Chris Lee, and Congressman Charles Djou with footage by Tom Berg