Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Low Hanging Fruit

By Henry Curtis

What is the absolute cheapest type of energy found in Hawai`i?

What type of energy production produces no greenhouse gases and has no environmental or cultural impact?

The answer is curtailed energy.

Hawai`i Wind Farms often can produce far more power at night than the utility is willing to accept onto the grid (curtailment).

At other times the utility will accept only part of the wind energy produced (partial curtailment).

In Hawai`i, wind farms are curtailed 20-40% of the time.

Picture the Opportunity. The wind farm is already built. It is already operating. It is capable of producing electricity. But the utility will not buy the electricity.

The obvious answer is that the wind company should use curtailed and partially curtailed wind energy to generate hydrogen for transportation and/or ammonia for fertilizer.

But they can’t.

The utility contract with wind energy companies forbid them from third party sales.

HECO's regulatory filing with the PUC (docket 2009-0176) for approval of their contract with First Wind Hawaii's Kahuku Power states: "From time to time, Hawaiian Electric will require Kahuku Power to temporarily curtail deliveries of energy. ... Kahuku Power will not sell energy from Kahuku Power's Wind Farm to any third party, without the prior written consent of Hawaiian Electric."

The only exception to this rule is Aina Koa Pono where the utility is asking the Public Utilities Commission to force HECO ratepayers to pay $25 million a year for 20 years to subsidize biofuel production on the Big Island to power HELCO’s Keahole Generation Station.

Aina Koa Pono will make byproducts on the side and sell them. The State has not asked Aina Koa Pono how lucrative their sales will be, while their biofuel is being subsidized by ratepayers.

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Do we even know if Kahuku Wind Power is really generating electricity? Every time I drive by that visual pollution, the monstrous turbines are at a standstill.

This is why the big boys and girls at HECO and HEI industries get the big bucks. Reducing competition by making corporate regulations which eliminates competition is good for excutive bonuses. Turning around and then complaining about government regulations being bad for business is a skill left for the sociopaths that run big business.

Wow, so ship oil, natural gas or coal here so we can convert it into hydrogen or ammonia with the unused electrical capacity of the windfarm. I hope you meant that as a joke. Why not just burn that stuff to turn Heco's gernerators? However briefly consider co2 warming of the planet to be nonsense. Then accept that these alternative energy sources are just not financially efficient. Even with subsidization there's no real market for them to enter. These are as goofy and unfeasible at current prices as growing corn for ethanol production. Note the bankruptcies this month of three mainland green energy companies. Realize that Heco has to keep the dynos spinning even if they aren't producing power, because the system is designed to always have power readily available at the flick of a switch - they can't depend on the wind always blowing at night. Fret not though, the world will assuredly burn and burn until all the easy to drill oil is used up and prices skyrocket. Tourists will disappear with the price hikes in jet fuel, the islands will depopulate, and those who remain (and HECO) will adapt, happy the windmills are there.

I'm no scientist or engineer....but why not just store the excess energy (in batteries). LIke homeowners do when we operate our own individual solar photovoltaic systems. We STORE the energy made by the sun during the day in Large Batteries for use at night or on rainy days. Why can't HECO do this BEFORE building new plants/windfarms/etc?

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