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Hawaii Planning State-Wide Electric Car Network

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the better-places-for-a-trial dept.

Power 255

MojoKid writes to tell us that Hawaii is planning on implementing a statewide electric car charging network. While the initiative seems to highlight the lower carbon footprint, Hawaii doesn't exactly seem like the ideal candidate for this initiative. One reader pointed out that perhaps a solar or wind power generation initiative might be a little better suited for the island state. "We have tons of wind and sun here that could be harnessed for electricity, but Hawaiian Electric Company has enough control over the government to block most wind and solar projects, and they make more money burning oil and diesel because the PUC lets them pass the fuel costs directly on to the consumer. Gov Lingle is taking all the credit, but if she actually wants to make a difference in oil consumption in the islands she needs to get large scale wind and solar projects pushed through first."

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255 comments

Electric car network, eh? (4, Funny)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007289)

Would that be a...wait for it...wait...ethernet linear BUS topology?

*rimshot*

Thank you, I'll be here all night.

Tip your server and avoid the crab louie like the plague.

=Smidge=

Solar power would make most sense (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26007299)

When I think of Hawaii, I think sunny. So it would make more sense to have a solar power initiative there and put an electric car initiative here in Rock Port where we're 100% wind powered.

That is what they're doing (4, Informative)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007435)

That's exactly what they are doing. They are using solar energy to power the car charging network.

FTA:

The infrastructure for this network will be powered by Hawaiian Electric Companies, with much of the electricity coming from renewable energy sources, such as "solar, wind, wave and geothermal."

Even the editor didn't RTFA!

Re:That is what they're doing (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007585)

I remember reading that even if they used coal to power the grid, which is the dirtiest power source available, electric cars would be better for the environment than conventional engines, if you ignore the considerable issue of the disposal of the batteries. This analysis includes the power loss over the lines. Gasoline powered cars are dirty!

Re:That is what they're doing (1)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007941)

It depends on what you consider dirty. CO2 isn't dirty. It is a life giving gas.

However, coal and gas powered things do emit more than CO2 which is bad for the environment.

That's why I don't understand why the Western nations want to cut carbon emissions while givng countries like China, India and Russia a near free pass. China and India have almost no environmental regulations compared to the US and Western Europe. Shipping our industry overseas is actually going to increase pollution.

It was odd to me that Clinton blocked the use of clean burning coal and Bush continued the policy, while allowing other deposits which weren't as clean to be allowed to be used.

Re:That is what they're doing (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008119)

You just recycle the batteries. It isn't that big a deal. The atoms don't wear out, the molecules do (that is, a stable, reversible chemical reaction is a neat trick; when you are recycling them, you don't need to worry so much about the stable or the reversible anymore, so you can recover the material).

No, Geothermal (3, Interesting)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007507)

When I think of Hawaii, I think of Volcanos.

Why in the world would they not investigate Geothermal power as an option? While I would agree, Wind and Solar would also be good, passing up Geothermal when you live on the flank of a volcano seems rather... odd.

Re:No, Geothermal (3, Informative)

LMacG (118321) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007561)

Only the "Big Island" (Hawaii) has an active volcano. The other islands still need alternate sources.

Waves? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007817)

How about wave power?

Please don't tell me that the opening credits for "Hawaii Five-O" were just special effects.

Is Hawaii really just beach-break? It was filmed in Bali!?!

Re:No, Geothermal (1)

Otto (17870) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007969)

There are a couple of smaller scale geothermal plants there in Hawaii. The problem is how do you tap that power?

You cannot control lava/magma, as the stuff melts everything. Plus, anywhere near the volcano is incredibly unstable and unsafe. So, you have to get at the heat indirectly, and from a good distance. You have to tap the inherent heat of the island itself, basically. All that lava heats up the entire underground area quite well.

Current way they're doing it is to drill deep holes, which essentially become wells. Go deep enough, the water table spills down the hole, and gets closer to the underground heat sources. Water heats up, comes out as steam, and you use the steam to turn a generator. Done.

Doesn't scale well, and can't work everywhere. There's other approaches, but the real problem is that to tap the heat, you have to dig down fairly close to it to make it efficient enough to bother with.

But how does Iceland do it? (2, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008115)

But 89% of the houses in Iceland are heated with geothermal energy (http://iceland.ednet.ns.ca/schedule.htm).

Can't Hawaiians use geothermal energy to at least heat their houses . . . um, in Hawaii . . .

Wait, let me get back to ya on that one . . .

Re:But how does Iceland do it? (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008221)

What we need is a superconducting heat pipe between Hawaii and Iceland (I know, they are in different oceans). Then heat can flow to Iceland and cold in the reverse direction!

Re:No, Geothermal (2, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008187)

They have, and there are some small geothermal problems. One of the problems presentin Hawaii but not elsewhere, however, is cultural. Among some native Hawaiians, the volcano is still revered. Think of it as though someone discovered a way to generate electricity from Jesus statues involving drilling into them.

Re:No, Geothermal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26008239)

Erm, programs, not problems.

Re:No, Geothermal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26008213)

Geothermal was tried here several years ago. It got shut down after protests from native Hawaiians.

Re:Solar power would make most sense (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007745)

And cents, too.

For a sec, i though of Sunny D (yeh, florida, other side of world)... But, with this grid, Hawai'i can ask/tell the oil companies:

"HEY! How's about a HAWAI'IAN PUNCH!"

Re:Solar power would make most sense (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008019)

When I think of Hawaii, I think small. So it would make no sense to have a solar power initiative to cover the entire place with solar cells and only provide 25% of the required power.

Big Island has room for solar power (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008243)

I think that much of the sugar cane is no longer produced on Hawaii, and therefore Big Island has a fair amount of unused land.

Hawaii only has 1.2 million people, so the amount of and needed isn't too big. Scaling down from the 92x92 mile area need to supply the whole USA, would necessitate less that 1x1 square mile spot to generate 90% of the states non-car electric needs.

Ride a bike. (5, Insightful)

Zoson (300530) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007337)

Being from Hawaii, and knowing how small Oahu really is.

Get a bike.

You can drive around the circumference of the island in about 2 hours. Enjoy paradise before you're whisked away to college and never get to go back.

Re:Ride a bike. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26007403)

Enjoy paradise before you're whisked away to college and never get to go back.

Yeah. Because there is no such thing as the University of Hawaii at Oahu. *rolls eyes*

=Smidge=

Re:Ride a bike. (2, Informative)

WolverineOfLove (1305907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007671)

I hate feeding trolls, but you should be made aware that many Hawaii residents leave for West Coast (or beyond) schools. Many more than you may assume.

I went to Washington State University in Pullman, Washington and knew no less than four Hawaii residents who wound up in the middle of the Palouse studying Computer Science. The only other state that beat them out in people that I met (besides Washington, of course) was Alaska.

Just my experience, and real numbers may vary, but I didn't think I'd be meeting that many folks, I was expecting more from Idaho and Montana.

What? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26007341)

They're saying goodbye to the electric car?

Ideal location (3, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007343)

Ideal location for an electric car network. First, the islands are each relatively small-- thus, you won't have to worry about cars being driven out of state, and out of reach of the charging network.

Second, it's warm all the time. Cold temperatures are a real battery lifetime and performance killer, and this may become a real problem with electric cars in the mainland 48, since people in Minnesota are going to want electric cars. It's a good idea to deploy the technology in the favorable places, like Hawaii, first.

Re:Ideal location (1)

Windows_NT (1353809) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007415)

Im from Minnesota .. I have a hard enough time starting my truck at -30F because batteries really loose their CCA at that temp. electric would be cool .. first i have to stop drive trucks with 350CID engines that get 8MPG :)
I think this would be a great project for Hawaii to undertake. It seems like it would take something like this for it to catch on in the upper 48. But then again, I think by the time a grid system like that got worked out, we we have a viable way to use Hydrogen powered cars.

Re:Ideal location (2, Insightful)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007517)

I'm from MN and you hit the nail on the head. People with garages would have no problem with electric cars, but not everyone has that luxury.

MN and colder environments would benefit from a hybrid car. Use a gas engine to warm up the battery. Once at a certain temperature rely on the battery system for power. Or have Jesse Ventura or (insert MN politicna here) come over and warm up the car for you.

Re:Ideal location (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007833)

In Minnesota, don't you need a block heater anyway? Since you're plugging your car in to charge it, it seems a simple operation to also keep the battery warm enough.

Re:Ideal location (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008017)

Most of the time you do not need a block heater, if you have a garage, and even without a garage, not in many parts of the state (like the Twin Cities, where most of the population lives)

Re:Ideal location (2, Insightful)

MrNiceguy_KS (800771) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007867)

Ideal location for an electric car network. First, the islands are each relatively small-- thus, you won't have to worry about cars being driven out of state, and out of reach of the charging network.

That was my first thought, too. At least from the consumer's point of view, the biggest downside of electric cars is the limited range. On Hawaii's islands, driving distances are limited.

Another advantage that occurs to me is the tourism aspect. Obviously, the Hawaiian islands get a lot of it, and I think electric cars could fit in well. Imagine, instead of renting a car from one of the standard rental places, your hotel has a small fleet of electrics available. You can rent one for the duration of the stay, or simply check one out from the front desk as needed. The electrics have reserved spaces (with charging facilities) in the parking garage.

It is already there. (4, Insightful)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007345)

The infrastructure for electric cars is already in place as the majority of places are already on the electricity grid. All that has to happen is for the cars to be fitted with a plug and be able to charge off of house current (110/220). Then some enterprising person will come up with a 'coin operated' charging unit to be placed at the front of all comercial and public parking spaces. And it is all done.

Re:It is already there. (1)

johnsonav (1098915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007603)

The infrastructure for electric cars is already in place as the majority of places are already on the electricity grid. All that has to happen is for the cars to be fitted with a plug and be able to charge off of house current (110/220).

Yeah, most places in the US are on our aging, antiquated electric grid. If all cars operated today were electric, and charged at night when there is less demand, there would still not be enough generation and transmission capacity to power them all.

Then some enterprising person will come up with a 'coin operated' charging unit to be placed at the front of all comercial and public parking spaces. And it is all done.

With this, the time it takes to charge a battery is non-trivial. Its not comparable to the five minutes it takes to fill your gas tank.

I believe electric cars are the future, not hydrogen, ethanol, or biodiesel. That said, battery technology has to radically improve before they are capable of general use. We can fix the other problems gradually, as electric cars are adopted. Hawaii is the perfect testing ground for this kind of network. An electric car that can only get 40 miles per charge is no problem when you can't drive that far unless you're doing laps (well, not quite). And the geothermal potential there has to be huge.

Re:It is already there. (1)

bob_herrick (784633) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007831)

With this, the time it takes to charge a battery is non-trivial. Its not comparable to the five minutes it takes to fill your gas tank

If this is the same system that has been presented here in San Francisco, then it may also involve swappable batteries. The charging stations might include some at which batteries are switched in a matter of seconds or minutes, aleviating this issue.

Re:It is already there. (2, Insightful)

Michael O-P (31524) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007859)

Yeah, most places in the US are on our aging, antiquated electric grid. If all cars operated today were electric, and charged at night when there is less demand, there would still not be enough generation and transmission capacity to power them all.

Citation? Or opinion?

While you make some other decent points, I believe that our grid would ramp up with the adoption of electric vehicles.

Re:It is already there. (1)

johnsonav (1098915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008027)

Citation? Or opinion?

A little of both.
This story: http://www.motorauthority.com/expert-says-electric-grid-ready-for-plug-in-hybrids.html [motorauthority.com]
It quotes an expert as saying that the grid could handle a, "60% adoption rate of plug-in hybrids by 2050." Now, my opinion is that the demand, and supply of primary-electric vehicles will be stronger well before 2050. And how much infrastructure development would have to take place between now and 2050 to make it possible?

Re:It is already there. (1)

MrEd (60684) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008097)

Opinion. Citation. [pnl.gov]

The problem isn't the bulk quantity of electrical energy needed*, it's the timing of the power. As long as electric car chargers can be timed to match times of excess generation capacity, then it's golden.

* except for hydroelectricity

Re:It is already there. (4, Insightful)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007907)

Yeah, most places in the US are on our aging, antiquated electric grid. If all cars operated today were electric, and charged at night when there is less demand, there would still not be enough generation and transmission capacity to power them all.

Lucky all cars today are not electric. All cars tomorrow will not be electric. All cars next year will not be electric. All cars next decade will not be electric. Perhaps in 50+ years when all cars are electric we may have had time to incrementally increase electric supply to match the slowly growing demand. Stretch I know, but it's possible. Much more possible then waking up tomorrow in a world full of electric cars and not enough power to charge them.

Re:It is already there. (1)

johnsonav (1098915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008063)

I hope you're right. But the absolutely dreadful track record of the US improving its infrastructure, whether it be electric, broadband, or whatever, leads me to believe we won't confront the problem until there are rolling blackouts.

Re:It is already there. (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008141)

"Yeah, most places in the US are on our aging, antiquated electric grid. If all cars operated today were electric, and charged at night when there is less demand, there would still not be enough generation and transmission capacity to power them all."

Not every one will buy one at the same time. this will permit the system to be improved over time.

"With this, the time it takes to charge a battery is non-trivial. Its not comparable to the five minutes it takes to fill your gas tank."

When you go the store, you plug the car in, put in your coins, the plug locks in and the battery is 'topped up' while you are in the store. Of course there is a little table that tells you costs per charge time. Then your car gets its main charge overnight at home.

If I wanted day old Digg articles (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26007347)

I'd be reading Digg.com
Jeez.

Re:If I wanted day old Digg articles (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008183)

The nice thing is now you don't need a time machine to do it.

Not necessarily (5, Insightful)

Once&FutureRocketman (148585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007365)

Gov Lingle is taking all the credit, but if she actually wants to make a difference in oil consumption in the islands she needs to get large scale wind and solar projects pushed through first."

This isn't necessarily true. Solar and (especially) wind generation technologies are developed and being deployed. The barriers in this case are political and secondarily economic, but once those barriers fall (due to cost of fuel, or due to political changes), adoption can be relatively rapid. Deploying large-scale wind is an understood problem.

Electric cars, on the other hand, are likely to require a much longer adoption curve. For one thing, they are private vehicles, subject to private decisionmaking and biases. For another, there still isn't a really good, affordable electric car on the market. Third, they will require a well-established infrastructure before anyone but the early adopters will use them.

So IMO it makes sense for them to focus on electric cars now, and on wind/solar tomorrow, because the leadtime on cars is going to be long. On the other hand, the benefit of moving to renewable electricity will hit the bottom line much faster, so they have an incentive to be working that angle actively too.

Re:Not necessarily (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007835)

The problem is that electric cars have the economic pressure.
Watch how oil has dropped. Say hello to SUVs and good buy the fuel efficient cars.
Gas is back being cheap and people have short memories.
I knew a person that had an electric car... In 1974!
Electric cars will be dead soon until the next price spike. The difference is that it will take an even longer spike before companies are willing to invest in alternative energy after the beating they take this time around.

This isn't my hope but just past experience.

Re:Not necessarily (1)

tbannist (230135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007905)

Absolutely true. There's a pretty good interface that shields car from the internal mechanics of generators and vice versa, we call it electricity!

Fortunately both generating stations and cars are protected objects.

Solar/wind are terrible choices for Hawaii (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26007369)

>>because the PUC lets them pass the fuel costs directly on to the consumer.
Of course, that's what businesses do!

Hawaii is a terrible candidate for solar power. Obviously the author has no idea of how many hundreds of acres would have to be blanketed with solar arrays to provide enough electricity to run a fleet of cars. Additionally, studding the crest of every hill with windmills hardly seems like a plan. People come to Hawaii for its beauty. And considering the limited size, it's not like they have the equivalent of a southwest desert to plant these arrays. Operators would have to chop down trees and build them on hillsides.

Of the 'green' alternatives, geothermal seems like a low-impact possibility. Nuclear, too. Small, safe, extremely high output, dependable.

Re:Solar/wind are terrible choices for Hawaii (1)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007677)

What about wave / tidal power? There's plenty of that to go around, just as long as you don't plant the generators in the middle of Waimea Bay or Pipeline...

Re:Solar/wind are terrible choices for Hawaii (1)

Moridin42 (219670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007925)

>>because the PUC lets them pass the fuel costs directly on to the consumer.
Of course, that's what businesses do!

That isn't the only problem with that statement, which also said that the company makes more money by doing so. Unless they're charging the consumer more for fuel than their suppliers are charging the power company, how do you make money by passing on costs? You don't. Everything you gain by billing the customer you've already expended in purchasing the fuel. If, on the other hand, the power company really does charge over cost for the fuel.... why do Hawaiian utility regulators permit it?

Re:Solar/wind are terrible choices for Hawaii (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008173)

I was in Maui in October for a week. Another couple attending the same wedding, but staying at another hotel had to sign a form agreeing to be charged $150 for running the AC in their room, while they were not there. Yes, the hotel fines them that much if they forget to turn it off! Seems electric prices are through the roof in Maui, and the hotels are getting tired of eating the costs.

One problem at a time (5, Interesting)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007389)

Don't try to solve multiple problems. If electric distribution can be solved, great. But idiots saying "If we can't solve every problem and have a green wonderland NOW then screw it." are just holding back progress. Solving power generation is a totally seperate problem and should be tackled by a different effort.

Specifically, wind and tidal energy are NEVER going to be close to cost effective. If you want to solve generation build nukes. We know how to build them safe, we know how to recycle the fuel and we have enough domestic supply to last a century or so. If we can't move on to fusion or some other super tech by then we deserve a Darwin Award.

Re:One problem at a time (3, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007553)

Treaties say we can't recycle the fuel. After the first use, we can reuse the fuel as the reaction core of a breeder reactor, and draw 19 times more power out. 5% of the power comes from stage 1, 95% comes from stage 2; stage 2, of course, is the complete transition from basic spent to fully weapons-grade uranium and then plutonium.

O RLY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26007939)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_Fast_Reactor

By the way, we could have had one of these running as early as 1997 if it didn't get derailed by the proliferation bogeyman. (It's pretty ironic, really - there's hardly a worse reactor design to get weapons grade fuel from, and the reactor would have consumed piles of the same waiting to be turned into RNEPs now. By the way, treaties don't mean shit.)

Re:One problem at a time (1)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007741)

Don't try to solve multiple problems. If electric distribution can be solved, great. But idiots saying "If we can't solve every problem and have a green wonderland NOW then screw it." are just holding back progress. Solving power generation is a totally seperate problem and should be tackled by a different effort.

Agreed. There's no point in building a huge network of wind farms without demand. An electric car network will provide demand in small increments at which time the power grid can slowly expand to fill it.

Specifically, wind and tidal energy are NEVER going to be close to cost effective.

Wind energy is already cost effective and in use in many places. Denmark, for example, uses wind energy extensively. In my own home state a new wind farm seems to pop up every year.

Re:One problem at a time (2, Informative)

NoKaOi (1415755) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007819)

The points I was trying to make are:
1) If you're going to set up an electric car network, start with the places where it makes the most sense. Like places where it isn't >30 cents per kWh with nearly all power generated by burning petro. Once it's established in places where it makes the most sense, then begin moving to other places.
2) This is political showboating by Gov Lingle. She is doing this to make it look like she cares about reducing oil consumption as a distraction from the fact that she tries to block anything that is not oil friendly in order to pad the pockets of corporations like Hawaiian Electric Co and Alexander & Baldwin. These things include blocking large scale wind and solar project, trying to block legislation giving tax incentives for home solar, and allowing the fuel pass through that HECO is allowed to charge us which they wouldn't get with wind and solar, thus giving them significantly higher profits from oil generation which costs the customer (those of us that live here) a lot more money.

So...in conclusion, this is all about trying to distract us from the fact that she is not actually trying to reduce oil consumption, at the co$t to those of us who live here.

US supply of uranium = 5 years (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007931)

we have enough domestic supply to last a century or so.

Current global uranium production meets only 58 per cent of demand, with the shortfall made up largely from rapidly shrinking stockpiles.
Since US currently supplies only 5% of the world, for us to become self sufficient will require a huge increase in mining. Have any idea how much the tree huggers fight that?

Also the US known sources of uranium are lower quality, and still net a total of 5 years worth of current worldwide use. The hundred years you quote, is "at the current rate of use", and the worldwide supply. We in the US would still have to import 95% of ours.
We use 1/4 of the worlds energy, and we currently make 20% of our energy from nuclear. If we went 100% nuclear supplied, and only from US reserves, (export none and import none) we would use up every bit of uranium in the US (including the un-mined stuff), that we know of in less than 5 years.

I live in Hawaii (5, Informative)

pwnies (1034518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007409)

...and let me tell you something about planning here. For the last 30 years they've been "planning" a system of rail transport on Oahu, and it simply hasn't come to pass. A lot of development projects here are simply shut down because many of the locals are very adverse to change. Even projects like these that have good environmental impacts at face value will require a ton of development. Behind that development will be an equal amount of litigation just to get the permits.
I'm not one to try and sound negative, but it will never happen in Hawaii outside of Waikiki (a lot of development happens there in order to help boost tourism).

Re:I live in Hawaii (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26007505)

I live on Oahu as well and you are absolutely correct. The inefficiency and doddering of the state and municipal governement here is a thing to behold. They will pay 10 firms millions of dollars for a study each and then do nothing with it.

Re:I live in Hawaii (1)

jumpfroggy (233605) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008109)

> For the last 30 years they've been "planning" a system of rail transport on Oahu, and it simply hasn't come to pass.
Tell me about it! I kept wondering what they were going to do about the horrendous traffic increases on H1, and it was so disheartening to see all the bickering about the development. I know a lot of locals want to preserve the island as much as they can, but I also hated getting stuck in traffic for 2+ hrs instead of a 30 minute drive home (when there's no traffic).

What is strange to me is that when I left (a year ago), they were having tons of trouble with electrical power generation; the demand was simply ramping up too much for their generators, and they didn't have any concrete workable plans for expansion because new generator development was locked in political limbo (surprise!). It's hard to think how they could go from there to all of the sudden increasing the demand a lot more for all the new electric cars.

Also, while geographically it would be easier to give HI the infrastructure to enable electric cars, for some reason it just doesn't make sense practically for me. First, culturally I wonder how many people would truly buy electric cars out there. There are a lot of old cars on the road, and a lot of people don't want to spend more for an electric. Second, it seems like the gains would be relatively small. What real world benefit would electric cars give? Would it be that much cheaper to operator over the long term? (with the high price of electricity out there, non-leased electric car batteries, disposal problems, etc). They don't have a smog problem (maybe vog though), and their electricity generation (as far as I can remember) was mostly diesel. It's more efficient to generate on a large scale vs. in each vehicle, sure. But I guess it seems like it wouldn't catch on as much there as it would somewhere like CA, even though it'd be harder geographically.

Question (1, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007425)

When has wind or solar ever been shown to be an effective, reliable replacement for fossil fuels? We need to develop methods for storing massive quantities of electrical(or thermal in the case of solar-thermal) energy before these power sources could be anything other than a supplemental power source.

Perhaps they could consider a nuke plant instead. Those are actually cheaper than fossil fuels, and they are certainly more reliable than wind or solar.

Re:Question (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007491)

When has wind or solar ever been shown to be an effective, reliable replacement for fossil fuels?

Are you using the fact that we haven't yet tried as a reason not to try in the future?

Re:Question (2, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007685)

No, I'm saying you should have a plan that has some hope of working before you start to implement it. Building wind and solar plants for supplemental power generation is great (though expensive), but for now nuclear is a far better option.

Re:Question (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007911)

Not at all.
nuclear works, is safe, and clean.
Solar and wind have never worked as more of a supplement and we have been trying since the 70s.

I am all for more research into solar and wind and using it as a supplement. But I wouldn't use groundless fears and miss information from letting me use a power source that works well and is proven. Yes I live near a nuclear power plant.

BTW Three Mile Island didn't kill a single person and Chernobyl can not happen to any US commercial reactor because they are of a totally different design.

Re:Question (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007577)

We need to develop methods for storing massive quantities of ... energy

Perhaps we could find some method of storing energy in some sort of flammable liquid ... even better would be if we could find a proven process that already demonstrated the storage of energy in liquid form ...

Re:Question (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007673)

When has wind or solar ever been shown to be an effective, reliable replacement for fossil fuels?

Wind and solar are certain to be around long after fossil fuels have been used up.

Re:Question (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007885)

Don't say 'used up' that makes you sound like a moron.

Say 'become uneconomical' as that's the endgame.

We can't even hope to 'use up' all the fossil fuels.

They are mostly too damn expensive to get to.

BTW you better hope we've still got some oil left or we won't be able to make the composites for the windmill blades. Oil will only be uneconomical as fuel. Much will still be needed for the chemical and plastic industries.

Assuming all goes well (yeah right) eventually petrochemicals will be replaced by purely synthetic chemicals. Ether that or whale oil and candles.

Re:Question (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008079)

BTW you better hope we've still got some oil left or we won't be able to make the composites for the windmill blades.

My hopes won't change a thing.

Re:Question (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007919)

I suggest you look at industrial level solar thermal.

They are a 24/7 power source because we store the thermal energy. This is being done right now. It's not experimental, it is a ready to go technology.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26007929)

Nuclear isn't a magic bullet to all energy problems. Nuclear is only cheaper if you ignore storage and clean up costs, these have to include mining and refining fuel. No one knows the final costs since there is no end in sight. We're still cleaning up messes from the 40s. Even with reprocessing fuel you wind up with massive amounts of Plutonium which is the last thing we need more of. Nuclear seems like a simple solution until you look into the inherent problems involved. Solar and wind are clean and sustainable and the cost and efficiency are improving all the time. One major problem no one discusses with centralized power is line loss. Solar can be localized limiting loss. The Hawaiian Islands have a huge potential for geothermal and does have consistent winds. Coal and nuclear aren't long term solutions and there are other alternatives.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26008111)

is that you barak obama?

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26008041)

Or maybe geothermal plants, being that they're sitting on top of a goddamn volcano.

Also, surface wave power and solar thermal power are both highly proven. (They also don't have to be concentrated into one spot to work with careful planning on your grid.) Even as just supplemental power sources they could drastically reduce the amount of energy a given power plant would have to generate. Why don't we stop looking for magic bullets here and fire the whole arsenal, eh?

Re:Question (1)

NoKaOi (1415755) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008225)

When has wind or solar ever been shown to be an effective, reliable replacement for fossil fuels? We need to develop methods for storing massive quantities of electrical(or thermal in the case of solar-thermal) energy before these power sources could be anything other than a supplemental power source.

True, you need some type of storage, such as pumped hydro, if you want to replace fossil fuels entirely. However, you could still easily replace a MAJORITY of it with wind and solar thermal. You'd still need the fossil fuel burning capacity that we currently have for times when wind and solar aren't meeting demand, but most of the time you wouldn't have to burn nearly as much fossil fuels.

As for cost effectiveness here are the facts, at least on Maui:
-The PUC lets Maui Electric Company (MECO, owned by Hawaiian Electric Company), can charge something like 16cents/kWh. However, they also get to pass through the cost of fuel in addition to this cost, directly to the consumer, resulting in power cost us more than 30cents/kWh.
-MECO would purchase wind power for about 13cent/kWh.
-Even though it would save us consumers A LOT of money to have wind power, MECO wouldn't make as much profit because they don't get the huge fuel pass through.
-MECO (HECO) has a ton of influence over the government.
-MECO is good at PR and convincing people that wind and solar are bad ideas for totally bogus reasons (this comment is already long enough, I won't go into more detail on that right now).

Perhaps they could consider a nuke plant instead. Those are actually cheaper than fossil fuels, and they are certainly more reliable than wind or solar.

Perhaps they should but it'll never happen here. The hippies complain about the waste, while everyone else is paranoid about safety, thanks to HECO's PR. Forget the fact that the navy has quite a few mobile nuke plants swimming around the islands already.

Re:Question (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008253)

Perhaps they could consider a nuke plant instead.

I'm pretty pro-nuke, but the last place I think should be looking at nukes is a bunch of small islands in the middle of the ocean. Even fast-breeder plants still have waste that takes a few hundred years to cool down, and we have very little experience building them (the one in Japan has had an accident or two and never seems to get any closer to going online at full production capacity and the one in France wasn't operational either the last time I checked).

Every island in Hawaii sits on a giant fresh water aquifer - if waste makes it deep into the ground, it has the potential to contaminate the drinking water for an entire island. If waste makes it into the ocean, it has the potential to seriously damage the wildlife of the reefs and spread out across vast areas of the ocean too, albeit in a diluted form.

That said, Hawaii has long been an area where alternative energy research flourishes - OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion), Geothermal and Wind have all had some serious development done in Hawaii. In fact, Lockheed is on board for build a 10MW+ OTEC plant on Oahu over the next couple of years and it appears that "Sea Solar Power" is negotiating to build a 100MW OTEC plant on Oahu too.

http://www.otecnews.org/ [otecnews.org]

The other thing to remember is that Hawaii has the most expensive electricity (and gasoline) of any US state (I remember a litre of gasoline in Hawaii costing more than a gallon of gasoline on the mainland). Thus what may not be cost-effective in Arizona or California may still be cost-effective in Hawaii.

What about . . . (1)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007467)

wave action? I seem to remember that at one time it was all the rage.

--
Karma is like underwear, it gets dirty.

Link to Times article (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007485)

Energy costs are higher on islands. And in that spirit, islands make an ideal testing place for new energy infrastructure projects, like a fleet of all electric cars. Its a pretty interesting idea, replacing gas stations with battery swap stations. From the NYT [nytimes.com] (go to bugmenot.com [bugmenot.com] to get around the stupid subscription) article: "We always knew Hawaii would be the perfect model," he said in a telephone interview. "The typical driving plan is low and leisurely, and people are smiling." On this note, what other energy projects would be ideally suited for an island test like this? Personally, I'd like to see a test of a breeder nuclear reactor, a full scale Hydrogen distribution network, a superconducting grid..... And as long as I'm wishing for things I'm not gonna get I want a pony too.

Skip the chargers & go for new roads (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007503)

It's time to forget about individually driven cars & roads as you know them. Cars can still be individually owned, as far as government credit programs allow, but the driving needs to be centrally controlled & the roads need to be specifically designed for autonomous electric cars. Maybe they need inductive charging or 3rd rails embedded in the asphalt.

You get in your car, dial up the destination, & a central computer synchronizes your trip with all the other cars so everyone can complete their trip without stopping. If cars were just invented today, they would all be centrally controlled, electric, & autonomous. Roads would be designed for autonomous cars & recharging.

Re:Skip the chargers & go for new roads (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007695)

You get in your car, dial up the destination, & a central computer synchronizes your trip with all the other cars so everyone can complete their trip without stopping. If cars were just invented today, they would all be centrally controlled, electric, & autonomous. Roads would be designed for autonomous cars & recharging.

Right. Comes with a Pony. You do live in this world - where the FAA can't get it in it's budget to replace Radar units from the 60's. Where most doctors use paper charts. Where luggage at major airports occasionally gets to the proper destination.

Nice science fiction world you've got though. Got any more room?

Re:Skip the chargers & go for new roads (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007975)

Where luggage at major airports occasionally gets to the proper destination.

I realize this must be sarcastic hyperbole on your part. Either that or occasionally doesn't mean what I thought it did. 999,999 out of a million bags making it to the proper destination is 'most' if not statistically 'all' bags getting there.

Re:Skip the chargers & go for new roads (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007755)

What advantage does your solution have over effective efficient mass transit solutions which we already have experience implementing like light rail or trains?

Re:Skip the chargers & go for new roads (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007887)

It doesn't require people to give up their cars, for one. People love their cars. We were discussing this at Thanksgiving - despite the horrible traffic around here, many people wouldn't use public transport even if it were free. I don't understand it, but it's undeniable that it's really really hard to get people to give up cars.

Re:Skip the chargers & go for new roads (1)

frizop (831236) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008165)

It uses the existing roads rather then requires that every road be outfitted with rails. I've imagined this as well, cars link up with other cars and form trains using some sort of locking mechanism (like the way trains lock into each other).

Re:Skip the chargers & go for new roads (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008055)

We could call these new, electric, autonomous cars by a new name, to differentiate them. I suggest 'tram.'

Should go great with the Interstates (1)

MrEkted (764569) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007529)

My favorite thing about visiting Hawaiâi?

The interstate highways [dot.gov]!

Re:Should go great with the Interstates (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008081)

That link makes has the fallacy that "interstate" when referred to in "Interstate Highway System" means to travel between states, when it really means funded by all states. There are some interstates that are in the continental 48 states that don't leave the state they are in.

electric cars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26007575)

It does not seem to me that electric cars would significantly decrease the carbon footprint as they still use energy created by a carbon producing plant. If that was implemented in conjunction with wind/solar initiatives, I would be impressed. Perhaps going fully electric is a decent first step and reduces output... I don't know how more efficient they would be than a hybrid or gas car.

Where will you put all this!!!??? (1)

gsgriffin (1195771) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007609)

OK. I like the idea and concept. Have any of you actually seen the wind farms in person? Have you seen the solar stations in person? Where on Hawaii are you planning to put up 1000 propellers and a sea of black-glass?

I can see the postcards coming out someday from the OLD DAYS when Hawaii used to be a beautiful landscape. It works on the mainland because we got Montana (where I live) and Wyoming. There is so much open land up here, you could power the whole US off the land up here and nobody would even see a single tower from the highway...but in Hawaii?

Re:Where will you put all this!!!??? (1)

AaronW (33736) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007981)

I can think of a number of places on the big island of Hawaii where solar and wind farms could be built and nobody would really care. At least when I visited there years ago there were vast uninhabited areas with only lava fields outside of Kona. I'm also sure there's some good places to build up around the saddle and on Mauna Kea.

I know there's already some windmills near Southpoint on the big island.

Not all of Hawaii is a tropical paradise. There are large areas on the big island that get little rain and are uninhabited that would work quite well.

Re:Where will you put all this!!!??? (1)

NoKaOi (1415755) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007995)

Where on Hawaii are you planning to put up 1000 propellers and a sea of black-glass?

Well...to answer your question specifically, I'm not familiar enough with Kauai or Oahu, but in Maui county, there are currently 20 1.5 megawatt wind turbines at Kaheawa along a ridge in West Maui. There's plenty of space in the central valley, between Kahului and Kihei, with strong consistent winds that are just A&B owned sugar cane fields right now (which makes no profit but is used to tie up land that could be used for useful things in order to force us to import everything on Matson ships, which is also owned by A&B). This location is already ugly and not visible from populated areas, unlike the small Kaheawa wind farm. This would also be a perfect area for a solar thermal plant, as it is in the rain shadow of Haleakala and is nearly always sunny, and is large and flat.

Castle & Cook, who own most of the land on the island of Lana`i, want to build a wind farm there at their expense and send this power via undersea cables to Oahu. Although Castle&Cook is pushing hard, the project is being blocked.

I was on the Big Island a few months ago and saw a small wind farm near Southpoint. There is also a larger farm of derelict old wind turbines near the functioning wind farm. These derelict wind turbines could be replaced with modern, functioning turbines, and there is plenty of space there to build a nice big wind farm.

I may sound paranoid and anti-corporation and all that hippy nonsense, but it's really just politics as usual. It's the same kind of curruption that goes on everywhere, it's just very obvious here since Hawaii is small and relatively isolated.

another alternate source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26007653)

what about geothermal? they're sitting on a bunch of volcanoes.

Penny Wise, Doller Foolish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26007705)

Save a bit of gas driving around the little islands - use a few thousand gallons of jet fuel getting to the little islands.

Electric cars match up very well with wind power (3, Interesting)

grandpa-geek (981017) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007739)

Charging electric cars is mostly an overnight load. Wind power is mostly an overnight resource. If we had 25% wind power and every car were electric or pluggable hybrid electric, wind would provide enough energy for all the battery charging. Denmark is now at 25% with plans to go to 50%.

Wind is also intermittent and variable, as is solar. Storage is needed between the generation and load to ensure that the right amount of power will be available when needed. Electric car batteries provide suitable storage. Without proper storage, some experts claim that for grid reliability you need as much conventional generation available as you have wind power running. There was an incident in Texas where they lost 1500 megawatts of wind generation in about four hours because a weather front came through and they had to dump interruptable loads and bring up conventional generation to maintain reliability.

Hawaii Electric tried wind power some years ago, and it threw their grid into instability. Older wind generators eat lots of reactive power, and the need to feed their reactive power requirements was what made the Hawaii grid unstable. (Electric power has sine and cosine wave components. Reactive is the sine component. A common related term is power factor.)

Newer technologies can take care of the reactive power issue, but it has to be done carefully. In the late 1980's Tokyo suffered a voltage collapse and blackout because of peculiar circumstances in which they simply ran out of reactive power.

Energy in Hawaii is more complex than that (2, Interesting)

VirtualSquid (311810) | more than 5 years ago | (#26007963)

I live on Hawaii island and study the energy issue so i can give some perspective.

First, to dispense with the false choice in the summary: It's not "car charging network" vs. "solar and wind". Of course we need both. Renewables are held back for both political reasons (no carbon penalty, 'avoided cost', slow bureaucracy) and physical reasons (no storage, no renewable baseload except geothermal on this island). There are a _lot_ of important-but-unpopular things the State could do to really make a difference - like tax gasoline and the importation of food - which they will never do because they don't have the guts.

However, we could do every possible thing - give away electric cars, tax the hell out of fossil fuels, put solar and wind and geothermal in every possible place, grow biodiesel crops for liquid fuel, burn biomass for carbon-neutral baseload electricity, wave power, condemn car-dependent suburbs - all of which we should do - and Hawaii would _still_ be a totally unsustainable place. Oil permeates every single bit of our culture, such as our 95% imported food.

Anything short of a mass exodus (not exactly a popular idea) and a return to a semi-agrarian lifestyle (not particular popular either) is not sustainable. Very few people in Hawaii realize it, and of the few educated people, many are in denial or hold out unrealistic optimist for a silver bullet ("fuel from algae will save us!")

For more info, see my biofuel notes [ahualoa.net]

I'm confused (1)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008059)

You have a group of islands which are really active volcanos with some habitable land around them, and you're burning oil for energy instead of sucking energy out of the molten rock?

In the Philippines, which has quite a few active volcanos (but far more non-volcano land area), they manage to get 25% of their electricity from geothermal. Given the size of the Hawaiian islands and the amount of geothermal available.... well, why are we even *having* this conversation?

The reality... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26008163)

Hawaii is an island chain. There is a lot of corruption and there are a lot of monopolies. (e.g., power.) The Feds never come close to weeding out the corruption (which helps many of the monopolies)--maybe they should hire a crack team of forensic accountants. Or the A-team.

Recharging issues ? (1)

tmbailey123 (230145) | more than 5 years ago | (#26008217)

Ummmm .... didn't they solve this issue long ago. While recharging your vehicle at home is fine. If the industry would agree on a standard for the size of the batteries then it should be only a matter of minutes to change/swap batteries at a "recharging station". Most consumer electronics use AA, AAA, C or D cells why not the same solution for electric vehicles ?

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