Monday, January 11, 2010


Sustainability on Kauai

By Henry Curtis

The Draft Kauai Energy Sustainability Plan, written by SENTECH, under contract to Kauai County, has just been released ( ).

The Preface states: “The Kaua`i Energy Sustainability Plan is an energy sustainability plan for the island of Kaua`i, not an energy sustainability plan for Kaua`i County government ... [nor] is not an energy sustainability plan for KIUC [Kauai Island Utility Co-op].” That is weird: the County is paying for a plan that is not their plan.

The Vision for Kauai is that the island will “have achieved 100% local energy sustainability” in 2030.

Aviation “is outside the scope of this analysis” and marine transportation is not mentioned. With the exception of citing one federal task force, climate change and global warming are also not mentioned. Life cycle analysis is restricted to financial costs only. Not mentioned are environmental and/or climate life cycle impacts and analysis. The focus of the Study is primarily, but not exclusively, on large central station generation.

Kauai has a “peak demand is projected to increase from 82.0 MW in 2009 to 126.0 MW in 2028.” A Black & Veatch study (“Renewable Energy Technology Assessments,” 2005) found that there is theoretically more than 1000 MW of renewable energy available on Kauai.

The theoretical levels of renewable energy include (a) Solar Photovoltaic (over 250 MW); (b) Wind (over 150 MW); (c) Wave (over 100 MW); (d) Solar Thermal (over 100 MW); (e) Biomass (nearly 100 MW) ; (f) Ocean Thermal (nearly 100 MW) ; (g) Ethanol (nearly 100 MW) ; (h) Hydropower (over 50 MW); and (i) Biodiesel (over 50 MW).

While the theoretical units “don’t include any technical, economic, land-use, environmental or other limitations on the resource” they are also low estimates. Thus Kauai has far more renewables than it could ever use.

The Kauai Energy Sustainability Plan’s solution for transportation is to build a combined ethanol/biodiesel plant using bioenergy crops such as Jatropha, Banagrass, Leucaena and Soy. The county fuel tax would be increased from 13¢/gallon to 50¢/gallon. Gasoline would cost “$4.00/gallon, a price at which gasoline demand was greatly reduced during the oil price run-up of 2008 where consumers started to reduce consumption of gasoline.” This would encourage the use of biofuel and electric vehicles.

The Kauai Energy Sustainability Plan’s solution for electricity is energy efficiency, building codes, and a mix of renewable energy: hydropower (45MW), concentrated solar power (30 MW), biomass/biodiesel (30 MW), Photovoltaic Electric (15 MW), and landfill gas (1.6 MW).

The hydropower estimate is high, considering the environmental and cultural impacts likely to be raised for any proposal. Excluded as solutions are garbage-to-energy and wind energy. While Kauai is home to large numbers of endangered and threatened birds which makes siting any large-scale wind farm problematic, micro-wind systems on rooftops using vertical or horizontal blades can be designed not to pose threats to birds and should be included as part of the solution.

“Based on estimates for the total cost to install, maintain, and operate the proposed mix of renewable energy systems, SENTECH Hawai’i projects that a total of $1.51 billion of private capital will be needed over 20 years.” Kauai has a population of 64,000. Thus this cost represents a little more than $1000/person/year.


These guys (sentech) are snake oil salesmen. The county is more than willing to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars in chunks to any CONsultan that comes before them; it doesnʻt matter what the content of the proposal is, because they wouldnʻt understand it anyway. But, it makes them appear proactive. They think.
It very easy to project to some distant date such the year 2030, because nobody can prove you wrong.

This report is a dream. We don't have sustainability on Kaua'i. You are right about hydro, it is 15MW more than even KIUC has in potential projects.

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