Per the suggestion of one of Hawaii’s lawmakers, I am submitting my assessment of the future energy sources for Hawaii.
Both parties perhaps driven by political forces behind the scenes, are touting alternative energy sources as the route to energy independence for Hawaii.
These sources include wind, solar, ocean waves, biofuels such as ethanol, and geothermal. All have major energy and engineering problems so severe that they are not alternatives at all, but merely supplementary.
Bulk supplies of low cost electricity has been a THE major form of energy essential for the strength and prosperity of our state and nation. If we are to continue to reliably supply electrical energy in the future, we must examine carefully the details of these supplementary forms of energy.
The problems are severe and limiting.
Wind energy is intended to supply electrical energy by spinning turbines with windmills. Such studies have been continuing for nearly 30 years. Our nation is littered with failed wind energy projects. The problems include:
*a. It is too intermittent — cannot be relied upon to meet a scheduled demand. With thousands of windmills around the nation, not a single dispatchable kw-hr has ever been produced.
*b. It is too variable — such energy varies both in voltage and frequency. Both depend upon wind speed, which is known to be extremely variable—including zero speed (no energy)
*c. Too unpredictable — As such wind energy is a very unreliable form of electricity.
*d. Its popularity among wind mill owners is twofold—first it is an excellent source of good public relations.
*e. Second and most important wind energy is a huge source of tax write-offs. Corporate support exists primarily because of favorable tax treatments—including federal accelerated depreciation allowances, direct tax credits of 0.18 cents/kw-hr, and many other tax exemptions and subsidies provided by state and local authorities. The cost and engineering data are too incomplete to make well-informed long range energy decisions. We do know that lots of windfarms have failed around the country, including here in Hawaii.
*f. Wind energy requires the presence of a backup system of equal capacity and greater reliability to produce electricity when the wind doesn