Sunday, August 28, 2011


Mega Solar Project Proposed for O`ahu

By Henry Curtis

Sempra Energy is proposing to develop, build, own, and operate a 300 MW solar farm to be located on Navy land surrounding the Pearl Harbor Navy Base on O`ahu.
In 2009 Sempra acquired the rights to the proposed  Auwahi wind farm on Maui. The wind farm  is proposed to be located on land owned by Ulupalakua Ranch on the slopes of Haleakala.
Sempra is one of the Top Ten Finishers in the the 2011 Clean Technology and SustainableIndustries  (CTSI) Defense Energy Challenge. The winning technologies will be showcased at the second annual Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit  to be held in Honolulu on September 13-15.  I covered the first Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and will be returning to provide coverage of this second summit.

The Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit (APCE) should not be confused with the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC).  

Sempra Energy is the largest natural gas utility in the United States and owns Southern California  Gas Company and San Diego Gas & Electric. Sempra operates in Argentina, Chile, Peru and Mexico. Sempra is building the Energia Sierra Juarez wind project in Baja California, Mexico which will supply their San Diego companies with 156 megawatts (MW) of wind energy.

Sempra owns the Mexican segment of the 220-mile long bi-directional  North Baja Natural Gas Pipeline which connects Mexico, California and Arizona. Sempra owns the 48 MW Copper Mountain Solar Facility (Nevada) and the neighboring 10 MW El Dorado Solar Power Plant.

The size of the proposed Pearl Harbor solar project pushes the upper boundaries on what many people thought was the limit for solar penetration on Oahu.

The University of Hawaii's Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) and the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) wrote the Oahu Wind Integration Study in February 2011 for the U.S. Department of Energy. The report analyzed five scenarios for Oahu. These options examined solar and wind possibilities ranging from 100-500 MW of wind and 0-100 MW of Solar.

Last December the Hawai`i Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) held scoping meetings for the Big Wind Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. DBEDT  stated that although there is no silver bullet, Big Wind was the only possible solution.

DBEDT has decided to revisit this issue. They will be holding another round of scoping meetings to allow the public to comment on two additional alternatives to Big Wind, namely Big Maui Geothermal and Big Solar.

DBEDT has yet to decide whether to include other alternatives, such as Hawai`i Island based Geothermal, Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), and Distributed Generation (DG).

The DG alternative would focus on the installation of thousands of rooftop solar and wind systems which could produce the same amount of energy as Big Wind but without the transmission and distribution line losses and without the costly utility infrastructure upgrades needed for Big Projects.

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I think Hawaii's geothermal and wave energy potential is utilized included in the mix, the intermittent nature of wind and the day time limits, could be easily compensated

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