- A new report titled Transcending Oil: Hawaii’s Path to a Clean Energy Economy notes the progress made by the US state in its clean energy transition goal, but says more needs to be done and faster
- Hawaii could accelerate clean energy transition by a few years in cost-effective manner: Rhodium Group's report says it could look at targeting 58% to 84% renewable power target by 2030, instead of 40%
- Innovation and scaled deployment have slashed cost of renewables, making these cheaper than oil, giving all the more reason to Hawaii to step up its efforts in this direction
- Such steps could lead to more job creation in terms of annual statewide employment
- The state would need to address some ‘artificial barriers’ and have friendly policies in place for this acceleration
Hawaii is aiming to reach a 40% renewable power share by 2030. But a report commissioned by Hawaii based Elemental Excelerator says it is cheaper to go faster and reach between 58% to 84% by the target year. This would increase investments in clean energy up to an additional $2.9 billion and reduce the amount of money spent offshore for imported oil.
The investment could increase average annual statewide employment with 1,522 jobs. Innovation and scaled deployment have slashed the cost of renewables so much that these now are cheaper than oil in many applications.
Hawaii has today almost 16,000 clean energy jobs. On average these jobs pay $3.00 to $7.00 per hour better than the median wage. In 2017, the share of renewable energy in the state’s power mix reached 25%, up from 6% in 2008. Indeed, Hawaii is the most ambitious US state when it comes to renewables targets.
However, the report ‘Transcending Oil: Hawaii’s Path to a Clean Energy Economy’, by Rhodium Group suggests the state should speed up its clean energy transition and address its oil dependence in both electric and ground transportation sectors.
“Under a range of oil prices and renewable energy costs, it is cheaper for Hawaii to accelerate the clean energy transition than to stay on Business as Usual trajectory. In our modeling, the cheapest pathway shows renewable generation providing between 58% and 84% of all electricity generation in the state by 2030 compared to the current mandate of 40%,”it reads.
Achieving this scenario requires doing away with some ‘artificial barriers’: This includes lifting limits on distributed energy; have a fair compensation scheme for distributed energy sources, especially rooftop solar; have a comprehensive energy strategy in place that proactively engages all concerned stakeholders; introduce a carbon tax which can be used to fund clean energy development, among others.
The authors of the report point out, “In the Business as Usual scenario, we estimate that operating Hawaii’s four electric power systems from 2020 through 2045 will cost $12.3 to $23.4 billion in net present value terms (NPV). The range represents differences in fuel prices and renewable energy costs. We find generating more power from renewables in Hawaii would reduce system costs dramatically to $9.5 to $16.4 billion on a net present value basis between 2020 and 2045. That represents a savings of $3 to $7 billion over this time frame.”
Hawaii aims to go 100% renewable by 2045. This is planned to be achieved in phases: 30% by 2020, 40% by 2030, 70% by 2040 and 100% by 2045. In July 2017, Hawaiian Electric Companies was given green light to achieve the 100% renewables goal 5 years ahead of state target (see HECO’s 100% RE Plan Approved).
The report is accessible on Rhodium Group’s website.