Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Hawai`i Clean Energy Summit

By Henry Curtis

With the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) coming to Hawai`i in November, the Hawai`i Convention Center played host to the 3rd  Asia Pacific CleanEnergy Summit & Expo (APCE) this month, sponsored by the Hawai`i Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) in partnership with the Clean Technology and Sustainable Industries Organization (CTSI) and TechConnect.

The conference had a lot of energy, great networking, and a number of cutting edge presentations.

Most energy conferences draw zero to two legislators. I counted over 25 legislators: the Governor, Lt Governor, State Senators, Representatives, Mayors and Council members. There were probably more Legislators attending but they were difficult to count because many came for some of the conference.

There were several keynote speeches and six separate tracks for panel discussions. More than 200 people  made presentations during the two-and-a-half day event.

 With an entrance fee of $595, the crowd was practically all government and industry people. The Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the University of Hawai`i were well represented. Attendees included a wide range of industry people from throughout the Pacific Rim and Morocco.

Ku`oko`a, the entity seeking to buy out HEI and then move  aggressively towards renewable energy, brought 25 people to the conference including most of their board of directors. Two of their better known board members, TJ Glauthier and R. James Woolsey, gave strong keynote presentations.

TJ Glauthier is the President & CEO of the Electricity Innovative Institute. Under President Clinton he served as an Associate Director of the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) for Natural Resources, Energy and Science; and concurrently, as the Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer for US Department of Energy (US DOE). He has also served for 3 years as the Director of Energy and Climate Change for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

TJ Glauthier noted that "many of you may not know that the Department of Energy, with its 120,000 employees,  contractor and federal employees, its over $20 billion budget now, actually energy is only 1/3 of the Department of Energy, it's a smaller part of the Department. The biggest single program in the Department of Energy is the nuclear weapons program. DOE is responsible for designing,  building and maintaining the nuclear weapons stockpile for the country. A big distraction."

Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey spoke of the urgent need to get off fossil fuels.   The coming of the crises in the 70s, both the Yon Kippur war oil crisis and the one in 79 surrounding the collapse of the Shah, and the takeover in Iran and the boost in oil prices, led in the Carter Administration, to an effort to move us off oil. Well, we didn't make much progress in moving off oil for transportation. But we did for electricity. Back in those days about 20% of electricity on the mainland was generated by burning oil. ... But the Carter Administration's policies, some of which were picked up and followed by the Reagan Administration, affectedly moved us away from that ...On the mainland now, well under 1% of electricity is generated by oil. Generating electricity by oil in the United States is almost completely a uniquely Hawaiian thing to do. Further, in the world as a whole, well over 90% of electricity is generated [by means] other than by burning oil.”

Governor Abercrombie, is his speech, referenced the ideas championed by Ku`oko`a: an undersea electric transmission line to the Big Island to enable geothermal generation to power the State and beefing up statewide broadband telecommunication capabilities.

  Attending the conference were Robbie Cabral and Mililani Trask from the Innovations Development Group (IDG). IDG supports a Native-to-Native model for the development of Hawai`i geothermal resources based on IDG’s success story in New Zealand.
Others attending included Moloka`i and Lana`i activists opposed to Big Wind.

The military and military contractors had a very strong presence at the conference. The military held panels on cutting edge research being developed in the private sector including California Energy and Power (wind), Ener-G-Motors (waste heat), and LaserMotive (invisible electric transmission lines).

Some attendees were concerned about the future of domestic green energy manufacturing. China currently produces over 50% of the solar panels made each year throughout the world. Now they are moving aggressively into wind turbine manufacturing.

The Hawai`i Department of Health (HDOH) has had to develop expertise to handle several bioenergy applications including HECO’s Campbell Industrial Park Biofuel Peaking Unit (CT-1), the Enova Energy’s Honua Power biomass combustion system in Kapolei, the  proposed Hū Honua Bioenergy Facility in Pepeekeo and the proposed Aina Koa Pono system to be located in Pahala which will be using non-commercially tested microwave technology.

Gary Gill, Deputy Director for the Environmental Health Administration (EHA) at HDOH spoke on overhauling the permitting process.

This is how the public perceives our permit process. It's a black hole. Your application goes in, and it takes an Act of God to figure where it is? How long it's going to take? What's wrong with it? Do I need to provide more information? When is my permit going to be issued finally? When do I pay? How much do I pay? Who can I talk to tell me any of these things? ...

Black holes are so dense they don't even let light out. Okay, so much gravitational pull. Were going to put a little neutron force in there with our E-permitting process, and were going to show you, where your permit is along the process, how long it's going to take, and speed up the process.

Of course every permit has its own personality. If your going to be doing, gasification of eucalyptus chips or something fun  like that, that's going to be one process. if your going to be doing biofuels or burning something, combusting something,  it will be different so, there is no one in one graphic I can show you the time line for any permit,  but basically the first half of almost any timeline is waiting for that application to be deemed complete. ...

[The E-permit process is] internet based. It's a one stop shop. You don't need to even know where in the  Department of Health to go, you just go to our portal and if you don't know what kind of permit you want you can use this Application."

* The photos in this article are from the APCE website.

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