Hawaii is the most fossil fuel dependent state in the nation. Because oil is both a volatile commodity and a finite resource, it is imperative that we begin to embrace alternatives. Wind is one of the most viable.
Achieving the goal of 70% clean energy in Hawaii by 2030 should be a breeze. That’s because wind energy is an important part of the state’s clean energy initiative.
THE WIND HAS ALWAYS BEEN AT OUR BACK
Early voyagers to Hawaii traveled here with the wind in their sails. Legend tells of the boy, Paka`a, who harnessed the wind from La`amaomao, the keeper of the winds, to power his canoe's sails so that he could win a race against fishermen and ensure a fresh supply of fish for him and his mother each night. Today, there are equally compelling benefits to wind power.
Wind power is renewable. We have an endless supply. On Molokai and Lanai – where wind levels are among the best in the country – wind is available 40% of the time.
CHANGE IS ALREADY IN THE AIR
The Kaheawa wind farm – built in nene goose habitat on Maui – already supplies 30 megawatts of power. And the geese are thriving. Furthermore, the Kahuku Wind Farm on Oahu – which broke ground in July, 2010 – will soon consist of 12 wind turbines producing enough power to power 7700 homes every year.
WIND ENERGY IN HAWAII
|Wind is plentiful on Hawaii's islands. In the past, ancient Hawaiians depended on the trade winds to sail their canoes. And for the people of Hawaii today, the wind holds tremendous potential as a clean, renewable energy source. Wind turbines can be used as stand-alone applications, or they can be connected to a utility power grid or even combined with a photovoltaic (solar cell) system. For utility-scale (megawatt-sized) sources of wind energy, a large number of wind turbines are usually built close together to form a wind plant. A growing number of utility providers use wind plants to supply power to their customers. In Hawaii, wind farms are already supplying electricity to consumers on Maui and Hawaii's Big Island, and plans are under way to install wind turbines on Lanai, Molokai, and Oahu.||
Stand-alone wind turbines are typically used for water pumping or communications. However, homeowners, farmers, and ranchers in windy areas can also use wind turbines as a way to reduce their electric bills. Small wind systems also have potential as distributed energy resources. Distributed energy resources refer to a variety of small modular, power-generating technologies that can be combined to improve the operation of the electricity-delivery system.
The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Wind Program and NREL have published a wind resource map for the state of Hawai‘i. The map shows wind speed estimates at 50 meters above the ground and depicts the resource that could be used for utility-scale wind development. Future plans are to provide wind speed estimates at 30 meters, which are useful for identifying small wind turbine opportunities.
This map indicates that Hawaii has wind resources consistent with utility-scale production. Good-to-excellent wind resource areas are fairly evenly distributed throughout the islands. The largest contiguous areas are located on the western parts of Molokai and Lanai, on the western and southern shores of Maui and Kahoolawe, and on the northern and southern tips of Hawaii. There are also localized high-wind resource areas on the islands of Kauai and Oahu.
ADDITIONAL WIND ENERGY INFORMATION
Get the Facts
American Wind Energy Association
Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
U.S. Department of Energy