Hawaiian Perspectives in Support of Geothermal

Over the weekend I was on the panel of a Hilo Community meeting called “Hawaiian Perspectives in Support of Geothermal Development.” It was held at the UH Hilo, and I estimate that about 50 people attended. By far the majority of the folks there were in favor of geothermal development, provided it is done in a pono way.

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Each panel member spoke about his/her area of interest.

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From left to right, this is Wallace Ishibashi, co-chair of the Geothermal Working Group, and member of the Royal Order of Kamehameha; Robert Lindsey, Big Island OHA trustee, Geothermal Working Group member; Mililani Trask, Hawaiian legal rights attorney and consultant to Innovations Development Group

I talked from the point of view of a banana farmer who, five years ago, found his operating costs rising, and attended three Peak Oil conferences to learn how to position his business in a future of rising oil prices.

I talked about how there are serious outside forces at work. The world has been using twice as much oil as it has been finding, and has been doing so for the last 20 years. The winds of change will soon be blowing and oil prices will be rising. It is very serious, and we cannot afford to insist on individual agendas. It is no longer about us now; it is about future generations.

There are many ways that we can deal with depleting oil.

HECO’s plan of fueling with biofuels will cause electricity rates to rise. Rising electric rates means that folks on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder will be the first to have their lights shut off.

There are people who advocate small scale, individual solutions to energy independence. This approach will encourage those who are able to leave the grid to do so, and leave the folks that are unable to leave to pay for the grid.

Another, much better, alternative is to bring more geothermal on line. Geothermal is proven technology, clean and lower in cost than other base power solutions. The more geothermal we use, the more we protect ourselves from future oil shocks.

I told the group what I had asked Carl Bonham of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization: If we can maximize geothermal as our primary source of base power, will we become relatively more competitive to the rest of the world as oil prices rise? He said yes.

I told the group that we are lucky to have the options that we have, especially geothermal. Very few in the world are as lucky.

In modern Hawaiian history, our economy has taken, taken, taken and the culture has given given given. We are at a unique time now when the economy can give and the culture can receive.

Do we dare dream of prosperity for future generations? I believe that most felt that geothermal was the way to get us there.

There are a thousand reasons why “No can.” We are looking for the one reason why “CAN!”

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2 thoughts on “Hawaiian Perspectives in Support of Geothermal”

  1. Richard, thanks for this latest post. I am following your blog with interest.

    Hawaii I guess, being volcanic in origin, is well suited to geothermal energy. It is good to see that your citizens are looking at the alternatives to oil. I think it is all our responsibility to preserve our world for future generations.

    Unfortunately, even though Madeira is also volcanic in origin, I am not aware of any geothermal usage here. Nor, do I know of any studies looking into the possibility. I will investigate and if I find anything come back and let you know.

    Incidentally, it is interesting to know that you are a banana farmer. Here in Madeira, bananas are grown in almost every spare bit of land, big or small. Indeed, it is possible to see small plots of banana plants in and around Funchal our capital. Which is good as the tourist seem to love our produce once they get over the fact that many of the local bananas here are small and have marked skins – we farm all our produce entirely organically.

    Thanks again for your post, I will continue following with interest.

  2. Unfortunately, even though Madeira is also volcanic in origin, I am not aware of any geothermal usage here. Nor, do I know of any studies looking into the possibility. I will investigate and if I find anything come back and let you know.

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