The Potential of Renewable Energy Sources in Molokai, Hawaii: A Comprehensive Guide

Hawaii is making great strides towards its goal of achieving 100% renewable electricity by 2045. To this end, organizations such as the Hawaii Navy and National Marine Renewable Energy Center (HNMREC) and Ho'ahu Energy Cooperative, Molokai are working closely with Hawaiian Electric to develop renewable energy projects that will be linked to the existing grid. These projects include bioenergy, geothermal, hydroelectric and hydrokinetics, as well as solar and wind energy. Maui and Oahu already have significant amounts of wind and solar energy to power their power grids, but utilities on each island wanted to know how their grids would work with more renewable energy. Hoʻāhu's first effort was to design proposals for solar energy and storage projects to submit to Hawaiian Electric's Request for Proposals (RFP) on Community-Based Renewable Energy (CBRE).

The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative also includes an aggressive mandate for the state of Hawaii to generate 40% of its energy from renewable resources by 2030. Molokai has a history of failed renewable energy proposals by outside developers, largely due to a lack of community benefits and resident approval. Todd Yamashita, from Molokai, is president of the Ho'ahu Energy Cooperative, Molokai, another key local organization involved in planning the island's energy future. The Molokai Clean Energy Resilience Action Plan not only focuses on renewable energy, but also on emergency planning. The Oahu wind energy integration and transmission study examined the integration of renewable energy as part of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative energy agreement.

Hawaii has created several incentives for consumers to install renewable energy systems and energy efficient appliances, such as the solar and wind energy tax credit, the residential energy efficiency tax credit, and the residential energy efficiency reimbursement program. To gain insight into the potential of renewable energy sources in Molokai, meetings were announced through a combination of public announcements on the Molokai Dispatch, posts in the Facebook group “Molokai Renewable Energy”, and email invitations sent by mail to the distribution list of more than 150 people. The effects of high penetration of renewable energy in island networks were investigated by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) through the Hawaii Solar Integration Study and the Oahu Wind Integration and Transmission Study. When considering renewable energy projects in Molokai, it is important to understand their potential impacts on the environment. To this end, projects are designed to minimize these impacts by using land that is already urbanized when possible and selecting non-toxic materials and equipment. In response to statistics showing that 85% of Molokai's electricity is currently supplied by diesel generators, the State of Hawaii has established that 100% of electricity sold by utilities must come from renewable sources by 2045. When you think your electric bill is too high, it's best to switch to another electricity provider and find ways to get the cheapest electricity deal.

Locally produced renewable energy could reduce the cost of electricity in Molokai while creating a cleaner environment for future generations and creating jobs that residents are already training for.

Catherine Geml
Catherine Geml

Extreme bacon specialist. Proud food specialist. Freelance travel nerd. Lifelong web practitioner. Hipster-friendly food advocate. Freelance social media scholar.

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