Friday, February 25, 2011


Energy Independence for Hawai`i (2030)

By Henry Curtis

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) was successfully tested in Hawai`i in 1979.  The U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment stated in 1980 "no technological or scientific breakthroughs are needed for OTEC to become a commercial reality." The only impediment was cost.

In 1981 President Ronald Reagan, favoring fossil fuels, ripped out the solar panels on the White House and zeroed out the U.S. Department of Energy's OTEC Budget.

In the past 30 years ocean engineering and oil exploration technology has significantly lowered the cost of OTEC by developing composite materials, floating platforms and piping technology. In the past few years the price of oil has risen dramatically and is expected in the near future to rise significantly.  This has made OTEC cost effective today.

OTEC would be located on a barge 3-4 miles offshore. All moving parts, other than water, would occur on the barge. The OTEC power generator uses a technology that is the dominant technology used in generating electricity in the U.S. An undersea cable would be drilled under the beaches and the reefs, connecting the barge to substations on O`ahu.

Fossil fuel generators account for seven of Hawai`i's top ten polluters, and they would all be shut down, ending the yearly release of two million pounds of toxic chemicals into our environment.

Fossil fuel burning facilities currently release particles, soot, and chemicals into the air which causes asthma, emphysema, lung and heart diseases, respiratory allergies, difficulty in breathing, wheezing, and coughing. The positive health impacts of ending fossil fuel use would be enormous.

O`ahu would supply 100% of its own power through OTEC, wind and solar, instead of seeking to industrialize Neighbor Islands.

Similar to the way a rock dropped in a pond creates waves rippling across the surface each dollar spent in Hawaii generates $3-4 of local economic activity according to DBEDT. Currently Hawai`i exports $5 billion a year to buy foreign fossil fuel. Keeping that money in Hawai`i would add $15 billion to the $60 billion state economy.

The existing fossil fuel facilities, located at Kahe, Pearl Harbor, and next to Aloha Tower would be converted in open space, parks and commercial space.

Henry Curtis 

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