Oahu Should Increase Electricity Production from Trash

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  • Honolulu has the most expensive electricity rates among U.S. metro areas, by far.
  • Oahu makes about 8% of its electricity from trash. It should plan to make 20% by 2020.
  • Oahu generates thousands of tons of paper, plastic, and cardboard trash. This is free fuel for the production of electricity. Instead of making power with it, we waste energy to bale it and ship it out. That’s nuts.
  • The next four slides explain what to recycle and what to throw in the trash.

The long term economy of Waste to Energy (WtE) plants is very good. There is plenty fuel (trash, waste and biomass). Municipalities pay the WtE plant to take their trash. The utility pays the WtE plant for the mega-watts of electricity it produces. Trash volume reduces 6 to 10 times so landfill demand is minimized.

  • Sweden imports waste from other Europe to fuel its WtE program. Maui should install a WtE plant and bring in trash from Big Island, Lanai and Molokai. Oahu should plan for another 100 MW of WtE (about half of it tuned to burn biomass, sludge and manure) and bring in trash from Kauai. Barges return to Honolulu from Kauai practically empty.
  • Both Oahu and Maui should consider ordering a sophisticated MRF, or Materials Recovery Facility, to better sort materials such as glass (by color), stones and similar inert materials, and all types of metals out of the trash. This would result in a cleaner burn at the WtE plant and revenue from recyclables, e.g., mixed glass is nearly worthless but glass sorted by color has value. So do sorted metals.
  • To make Oahu more sustainable we should revise what we currently trash and what we recycle at home in theBLACKGREEN and BLUE bins, as detailed in the post below.
Last but not least, The Economist notes that “Energy from waste plants that use trash as a fuel to generate electricity and heat continue to have an image problem. That is unfair, because the technology has advanced considerably and has cleaned up its act.” As depicted in the image blow, very large part of modern WtE plants is devoted to pollution control.





    • According to the founder of Subway sandwiches, he couldn't start that business today with the excessive regulations, and other road blocks to any capitalist venture we have. Hawaii has the worst reputation of all states for that.
      It's too bad we didn't elect a guy like Panos for governor, instead of a Marxist rodent with a bad haircut.

  1. Where is the truck with the possibly contaminated ash going? Have you (or The Economist) estimated the quantities involved?

  2. Changing your tune?

    Last time you ran for mayor, you told Civil Beat: "Burn it, ship it, re-use it. The H-Power plant generates a profit for the city and should be maintained to its full potential. There is no need to expand it because population growth on Oahu will be minimal according to the state's latest forecast."

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