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Old 12-28-2012, 12:33 PM   #21
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Seems like Hawaii should have a nuclear power plant.
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We have lots of nuclear power plants, they just are all aboard Navy ships and subs. I don't think we have nearly enough electricity demand to justify having a nuclear power plant. The problem is that nuclear plant have to be taken out of service for maintenance etc and without a grid to hook up that would require essentially having twice the capacity.
I think the USS TRITON was the last dual-plant submarine, and it's just too much maintenance. But carriers need the reliability and they have the space, so two reactors works well for them despite the expense. When one reactor scrams they open a few cross-connect valves and keep the engineroom going until the scrammed reactor is back up.

As much as Hawaii residents would enjoy cheaper electricity from a nuclear plant, the spent fuel storage issue would have the politicians and the courts tied in knots for years. As Clif points out, there's just not enough grid capacity to handle a nuclear plant shutdown.

I think the answer is going to have to come from solar water heating, wind, PV, and trash-burning plants like HPOWER. It wouldn't kill HECO to buy excess residential power at wholesale, either, instead of just net-metering and keeping the excess. But I think Hawaii is going to "lead the way" in reducing PV tax credits.
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Old 12-28-2012, 01:01 PM   #22
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I couldn't find a map of Hawaii's power grid. Power generation and distribution is an interesting engineering problem. How big a plant and what type. What about the spacing between plants vs the grid loss and costs. And maintenance vs up time. Pretty complex.

Yeah, the waste storage would be problematic for nuclear especially on Hawaii.

Maybe someday there will be superconductors and Hawaii can be connected to the mainland grid.

What about geothermal? Seems like that could be a possibility.

I have always been interested in Solar electric generation but have never been able to make it work economically. I would probably do it for a hobby even at break even pricing.
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:19 PM   #23
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What about geothermal? Seems like that could be a possibility.
Plenty of geothermal on the Big Island, and it's one of the western hemisphere's biggest polluters. But although Kilauea Volcano has been erupting for nearly three decades, we haven't yet developed a way to cap it for generating power.

Puna Geothermal has been running for nearly 20 years and has a capacity of 30 MW, but it's not popular with its neighbors. Perennial complaints of noise and H2S emissions have slowed the state's political/environmental progress in expanding geothermal. I understand that the detection & drilling tech has improved, and a more modern plant would probably be a better neighbor than Puna Geo to have in your backyard, but it's still not popular.

One issue in Hawaii's power expenses is grid redundancy & survivability. Again nobody wants to see utility poles marching across their ridgeline or ocean views, yet the hurricanes regularly tear up the creosote-coated termite shelters that are still in use throughout much of the state. The power generation stations would like to be more widely distributed (or at least out of tsunami evacuation zones and downtown real estate) but that's not easily done. And of course if several generators trip off during a natural disaster or an electrical fault, HECO can't just flip a few breakers to bring in power from a neighboring state's grid...
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Old 12-28-2012, 05:28 PM   #24
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So nobody wants any change from the status quo because it might affect them. So Hawaii keeps on burning oil. Not that I mind, I used to work for big oil and have stock.

I refused to lease the gas rights under my lot myself. I didn't really want gas wells in my residential neighborhood.
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Old 12-29-2012, 04:08 AM   #25
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I couldn't find a map of Hawaii's power grid. Power generation and distribution is an interesting engineering problem. How big a plant and what type. What about the spacing between plants vs the grid loss and costs. And maintenance vs up time. Pretty complex.

Yeah, the waste storage would be problematic for nuclear especially on Hawaii.

Maybe someday there will be superconductors and Hawaii can be connected to the mainland grid.

What about geothermal? Seems like that could be a possibility.

I have always been interested in Solar electric generation but have never been able to make it work economically. I would probably do it for a hobby even at break even pricing.

There are many many scheme for using alternative energy for powering Hawaii and number of demonstration project for many technologies. Wind, Solar, waves, pumping deep ocean water to cool building, a couple of different types of bio diesel,algae, a geothermal plant. Nords and I get an opportunity to get presentation on most of these schemes as the entrepreneurs start their quest for money.

One of the most ambitious is to use the obvious geothermal (erupting volcanoes) to generate electricity, lay a power cable between the Big Island and Oahu. Then because there is excessive energy, convert it to to liquid natural gas and ship it back to Japan and China, in the other wise mostly empty cargo ships.

Alternative energy makes more sense for Hawaii,than any Metropolitan place in the world. Yet even with all of the subsidies, this big increase in PV in 2012, I doubt the percentage of alternative energy will exceed the low double digits and some of the measurement is dubious. The state's goal is 40% renewable by 2030, which is both higher but 10 years later than the previous governors plan. Amazing how politician always set these goals for well after they will have left office.

Honestly, it is very disappointing that even in Hawaii renewable energy has such a hard time. But I think it is instructive for everybody in the mainland, before you all get excited about new green energy source. Ask yourself the question, if it didn't work in a Hawaii with electricity costs 2-4 times more than other state, twice as much sunlight, and wind locations as good as most anywhere, than what chance does it have to be competitive anyplace else?
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Old 12-29-2012, 10:09 AM   #26
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Honestly, it is very disappointing that even in Hawaii renewable energy has such a hard time. But I think it is instructive for everybody in the mainland, before you all get excited about new green energy source. Ask yourself the question, if it didn't work in a Hawaii with electricity costs 2-4 times more than other state, twice as much sunlight, and wind locations as good as most anywhere, than what chance does it have to be competitive anyplace else?
Excellent observation (though it is not what many people want to hear).

I say much the same thing about Electric Vehicles, comparing the mainland US with Europe. If EVs have not taken off in Europe, with their high fuel prices and generally smaller cars and shorter commutes, then why would anyone expect any significant % EV in the US?

-ERD50
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Old 12-29-2012, 10:50 AM   #27
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The expensive land in Hawaii would make utility scale solar problematic.

Having an economy highly dependent on the view of the ocean makes wind problematic. The dense population doesn't help either. Wind farms aren't something you really want your neighbor having.

Here in the Midwest, we have vast expanses of windy farmland with almost no people near them. We've build windmills.

Arizona has vast areas of cheap, sunny desert around Phoenix. I think that is where you'll see real scale in utility solar first.

Hawaii is ideal for home-based systems, but I've always questioned whether people will be willing to deal with the hassle.

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Honestly, it is very disappointing that even in Hawaii renewable energy has such a hard time. But I think it is instructive for everybody in the mainland, before you all get excited about new green energy source. Ask yourself the question, if it didn't work in a Hawaii with electricity costs 2-4 times more than other state, twice as much sunlight, and wind locations as good as most anywhere, than what chance does it have to be competitive anyplace else?
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Old 12-29-2012, 05:59 PM   #28
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Pima county, AZ - I have 2.8 Kilowatt PV system on my roof - grid tied (which means when the power goes out, so does my access to the solar generated power----sigh).

So far, the largest part of my electricity bills has been all of the fees on the bill.....I just love paying the alternative energy generation fee - huh?!?!

Coolest part of my system is being able to monitor it via network - each panel and how it much it generates and at what time of day/month/year the generation is the highest, etc.

Still need to see what AZ will give us in tax breaks - not much, I don't think as they phased a lot of that out a few years ago.....nevertheless, this is one of the best places for solar generated power - hell, if I could do it in an aesthetic way, I'd plaster the house with a photovoltaic material.

I also love my solar Citizen watch :-)
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Old 12-29-2012, 06:29 PM   #29
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The expensive land in Hawaii would make utility scale solar problematic.

Having an economy highly dependent on the view of the ocean makes wind problematic. The dense population doesn't help either. Wind farms aren't something you really want your neighbor having.

Here in the Midwest, we have vast expanses of windy farmland with almost no people near them. We've build windmills.

Arizona has vast areas of cheap, sunny desert around Phoenix. I think that is where you'll see real scale in utility solar first.

Hawaii is ideal for home-based systems, but I've always questioned whether people will be willing to deal with the hassle.
Hawaii is only the 13th most densely populated state behind both CA and IL. Even Oahu has hundreds of thousands of acre of fallow agriculture land that used to be devoted to growing pineapple and sugar cane and now does nothing, it is relatively expensive, but the land cost per square meter is lot lower than than cost of the PV panels, or mirrors, or even algae ponds.

You're right that issue relating to the tourism business are important factor, and certainly the NIMBY issue is huge here.
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Old 12-29-2012, 08:08 PM   #30
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The expensive land in Hawaii would make utility scale solar problematic.
The easiest places to put large-scale PV installations have been state/federal land, like Kalaeloa (the former Naval Air Station Barbers Point). There's another large array at a Navy housing area. But the real growth has been commercial/residential, and there's still plenty of empty roofs left. The biggest issue is controlling grid voltage.

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Having an economy highly dependent on the view of the ocean makes wind problematic. The dense population doesn't help either. Wind farms aren't something you really want your neighbor having.
That's why it was installed in Kahuku, where apparently there's not enough political or civil power to stop the approval process. It's not clear whether the rest of Oahu has enough average wind or political will to do more than that.
"Big Wind" on Lanai is popular for the prospect of employment, but not for the impression that all the power will be sucked away to Oahu.

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Hawaii is ideal for home-based systems, but I've always questioned whether people will be willing to deal with the hassle.
I think the biggest issues have always been the capital expense, the length of the payback, and a homeowner's uncertainty that they'll live there long enough to pay it back. At 30 cents/KWHr, though, a lot of the "no money down" solar companies are able to make money from that business model.
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Old 12-29-2012, 08:27 PM   #31
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When oil reaches $250/barrel, all the whining will stop and the construction will proceed... even without government subsidies.
And it surely will as Chinese and Indian consumers trade up from a scooter to a car

The government electric rate here in Thailand is around 10 cents per kWh, but most landlords mark it up by 100 to 200%. I'm paying 15 cents
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Old 12-30-2012, 02:16 PM   #32
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I am in Seattle where it is gray and raining most of the time. I can't find out how that affects solar power. They are powering stop signs and things with little panels but I have only seen one house with a panel so I don't want to be next. Our power is 9cents so some months about $20 to $60 or so. Not worth the risk and hassle of battery banks to be off grid or selling back power if on grid.
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Old 12-30-2012, 02:58 PM   #33
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I am in Seattle where it is gray and raining most of the time. I can't find out how that affects solar power. They are powering stop signs and things with little panels but I have only seen one house with a panel so I don't want to be next. Our power is 9cents so some months about $20 to $60 or so. Not worth the risk and hassle of battery banks to be off grid or selling back power if on grid.
Think hydro-electric, east Washington has some pretty cheap electric bills.
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Old 12-30-2012, 04:00 PM   #34
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I am in Seattle where it is gray and raining most of the time. I can't find out how that affects solar power. They are powering stop signs and things with little panels but I have only seen one house with a panel so I don't want to be next. Our power is 9cents so some months about $20 to $60 or so. Not worth the risk and hassle of battery banks to be off grid or selling back power if on grid.
Solar companies (and research labs) usually have some sort of local insolation map like this one:
Solar Insolation Map

It's a good starting point for annual production, although the research labs tend to be more pragmatic than the solar companies.

The payback is more complicated because every state/locality has a tailored subsidy. The DSIRE national database (DSIRE: Database of Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy Solar Incentives, Rebates, Programs, Policy) is pretty good at helping you drill down to your area's federal/state/local tax credits, as well as any rebates offered by your local utility company.

In very broad general terms, for areas with residential natural gas or with electric rates under 12 cents/KWHr, photovoltaic will have an unrealistically long payback of 15-20 years. However a few years ago New Jersey and Germany were two of the planet's best places to install PV-- due to the tax credits. And if you can do your own mechanical installation or if you can find panels for under $2/watt, then your payback might be considerably faster.

It's worth keeping an eye on the tech for the next few years. Prices are collapsing and power densities are climbing rapidly. Our array has already paid for itself and our newest panels, from 2007, are already considered "vintage". (Our 1990s panels are Smithsonian quality.) They cost about $2-$4/watt used/seconds in 2005-07, but today you can get that price for new retail panels.
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Old 12-30-2012, 04:19 PM   #35
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Think hydro-electric, east Washington has some pretty cheap electric bills.
It is interesting that Hydro is the ultimate renewable energy source, and extremely cheap. (The electricity rates for my properties in Vegas are in the $.07-.08 KwH range). But somehow it isn't considered green
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Old 12-30-2012, 04:59 PM   #36
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Hawaii is only the 13th most densely populated state behind both CA and IL. Even Oahu has hundreds of thousands of acre of fallow agriculture land that used to be devoted to growing pineapple and sugar cane and now does nothing, it is relatively expensive, but the land cost per square meter is lot lower than than cost of the PV panels, or mirrors, or even algae ponds.

You're right that issue relating to the tourism business are important factor, and certainly the NIMBY issue is huge here.
In particular on the islands the leeward (dry sides) would be good for solar power since the sun shines a lot, the windward sides not so much since it rains so much there. Also note the comment that the sister islands since they have so much less demand have higher prices for electricity. The big island has an aweful lot of empty space to boot.
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