Hawaii's Natural Energy Lab Tests Solar, Wind, Geothermal Sources
Alternate energy production on the Big Island, Hawaii hopes to supplement the majority of electrical energy generated from diesel, which has to be imported through the port of Hilo.
The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority has a demonstration site on formerly unused property of the new Kona airport. It was originally set up to study the feasibility of producing electricity by exploiting the differences in ocean water temperatures.
It has not yet proved to be commercially viable, but other energy alternatives are being explored, as evidenced by the large solar array on the roof of the building.
As an offshoot of the original work utilizing deep seawater, other industries have sprung up on the site which use the cold, clean water. Most tenants firmly discourage visitors, but an abalone farm conducts tours of its facilities. Solar energy encourages the growth of the seaweed the abalone thrive on and the unpolluted waters ensure healthy abalone growth.
Alternate Energy Sources Used on Big Island Hawaii
- Solar - Building codes are about to change, requiring the installation of solar panels on all new homes.
- Wind - A long-time wind farm on the southern tip of the Big Island is gradually being phased out, but a new one is currently in operation on the north Kohala coast.
- Geothermal - exploiting the power of volcanic activity, water is heated to steam, which drives electrical generators.
The geothermal power currently provides about 20% of the electricity used on the island. A very pleasant offshoot of the geothermal energy is the heating of pools of water to just the right temperature for a soothing soak.
Along the Puna peninsula, numerous warm pools exist, some on private property, many not. The Ahalanui State Park has a large salt water pool that is naturally heated to about 90 degrees. It's free and open most days.