For National Energy Awareness Month we wanted to know how Puna Geothermal Venture fit into Hawaii’s clean energy goals. Mike Kaleikini, Ormat’s Senior Director of Hawaii Affairs shared how they are creating a balanced system in the Hawaii.
“Before the lava flow, PGV was providing 31% of Hawaii Island’s electric needs. We are working to get back up to the output we had; we were producing 38 MW then and are at 25.5 MW now. Geothermal is a key part of creating a balanced, clean energy system in Hawaii.”
And according to Jordan Hara, the PGV Plant Manager, they offer something else to the mix of alternatives.
“Geothermal energy is firm power, it is dispatchable, that means geothermal power is always available. Other sources of alternative energy can vary depending on environmental factors. Geothermal power is there when the grid needs it – we can ramp production up or down depending on the community’s needs.”
So why is electricity so expensive in Hawaii? Kaleikini had this to say.
“Energy production in Hawaii has been oil-based for many decades. Shipping oil overseas makes it expensive. Renewables started coming online in the 90s, but for many years, they were priced linked to the price of oil. We have a portion of one contract that is based on oil prices. We are proposing to eliminate that pricing link to oil in our new agreement with Hawaiian Electric. The proposed agreement is before the Public Utilities Commission now. In the new agreement, energy pricing will be between 4 to 7 cents per kWh, with no escalation over the duration of the contract.”
According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, geothermal energy uses 1-8 acres per MegaWatt generated, versus 19 acres per MW for coal power. Geothermal uses approximately 1% of the land required for solar, and 3% of land required for wind power. So the footprint also makes a lot of sense in Hawaii. “It’s important that people know where their energy is coming from, with rising effects of climate change, it’s crucial that our community focus on energy resilience and producing power from local resources. We’ve seen devastating impacts on power grids in places like Texas and Louisiana. Right now, it is more urgent than ever to create a strong, sustainable, local energy supply for Hawaii.”
To learn more, visit www.punageothermalproject.com