Friday, September 12, 2008

Getting renewable energy traction? Stop the infighting.

How do you prevent renewable energy from taking hold in Hawai'i?
The answer keeps coming home, and did again this week at the 2008 Kaua'i Renewable Energy Conference.
You want renewables to fail? Have the renewable advocates fight among themselves.
At least some of them are doing it in Hawai'i.
You've got some hydroelectric supporters saying they're way more steady than wind, which also kills birds.
And solar folks saying hydro is hazardous to 'o'opu stocks.
And ocean thermal energy folks saying solar is iffy because of clouds, and, well, nightfall.
And wind, hydro and solar folks saying ocean technologies are really still experimental.
And many of those folks saying biofuels have all sorts of environmental issues; and biofuels folks saying that at least their fuels can be used in existing engines—whether transportation or powerplant—and they provide fuel that's available where and when you need it.
And the energy efficiency folks saying theirs should be the first initiative, before all those other technologies are put into play.
It's an endless circular game guaranteed to keep fossil-fuel power at the forefront, and carbon dioxide pumping into the atmosphere.
Maurice Kaya, a strategic energy and management consultant and the former state Chief Technology Officer, argued that there's no time for all this.
“There is too much cost and way too much risk in the status quo,” Kaya told the energy conference. “We are well beyond the time when we must act.”
Kaya argued that it is time for the entire community to insist that renewable energy assets be developed and to insist that policy makers take the issue of moving away from fossil fuel energy seriously.
Kaya co-convened the Kaua'i energy conference with William Parks Jr., deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.
Parks said that one of the things needed immediately is to modernize the power grids in Hawai'i, so that they can handle the new kinds of often-intermittent renewable power.
There is value in moving quickly, and there are large costs to delays, he said.
In the words of former state consumer advocate Bill Milks: “I believe we have a crisis.”
© 2008 Jan W. TenBruggencate