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Hawai‘i Governor signs bill setting 100% renewable portfolio standard for electricity sector by 2045

Hawai‘i Governor David Ige this week signed into law four energy bills, including one (HB623) directing the state’s utilities to generate 100% of their electricity sales from renewable energy resources by 2045. This makes Hawai‘i the first state in the nation to set a 100% renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for the electricity sector.

The new law increases the current renewable portfolio standard to 30% by the end of 2020; 40% by the end of 2030; 70% by the end of 2040; and 100% by the end of 2045.

Another measure signed by Ige (

href="">SB1050) will create a structure that will allow renters, condominium owners and others who have been largely shut out of Hawai‘i’s clean energy transformation to purchase electricity generated at an off-site renewable energy facility, such as a large-scale solar farm.

The bill establishing a community-based renewable energy program will be particularly valuable on O‘ahu where there is a high concentration of high-rise condominiums that lack sufficient roof space to support on-site solar panels. The law is also expected to provide relief to homeowners and businesses who are located on highly saturated circuits that cannot accommodate additional PV installations.

In addition to the 100% RPS and community-based renewable energy bills, Ige signed into law a measure that sets a net-zero energy goal for the University of Hawai‘i System (HB1509) and another that designates a state hydrogen implementation coordinator (HB1296).


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Super. Hopefully other states and countries will soon follow Hawaii's lead. 100% renewable electricity is simple to implement in any country using solar and wind power. Intermittencies are dealt with in four principal ways:

1) Using battery backup like Tesla's powerpacks.

2) Long-distance transmission lines connecting the grid over large geographic areas (ideally the entire planet should be connected into a super grid). Solar and wind produces a constant flow of energy on average on the planet.

3) Overcapacity. Seasonal intermittency can also be dealt with by building enough solar and wind power to supply the grid even in seasonally low production times (such as low winter production for solar energy and low summer production for wind power).

4) Implementing a smart grid enabling hourly changes of the electricity prices for every meter on the grid in order to fit supply and demand at any time of the day or the year.


It sounds crazy to me.
Getting to a high percentage (60-70%) renewable is doable, but trying to go to 100% is plain crazy unless you have a load of hydro, which they don't.

"The new law increases the current renewable portfolio standard to 30% by the end of 2020; 40% by the end of 2030; 70% by the end of 2040; and 100% by the end of 2045."

We are fine up to 2040, then they take leave of their senses and expect to get from 70% to 100% in 5 years ?

The last 30% is the hardest, and most expensive.

"Intermittencies are dealt with in four principal ways:"
indeed, and each approach costs more money.
They will end up with $1 / kwH - for what ?
Bragging rights ?
A competition to see who can have the most expensive electricity in the world?

Why not go as far as you can but allow for 30-40% gas fired to handle difficult situations, like prolonged low wind periods in winter ?

Then do an "offset" to cover this where the Hawai‘i'ns (sp?) pay for a load of solar for Namibia or Congo or somewhere and use the electricity as an offset to cover their occasional use of dispatchable fossil fuels?

GW is a global problem, you don't have to solve it in each individual country, you need a global solution at an affordable price, which would IMO mean putting in loads of solar into sunny places for a start (and wind into windy places), and large HVDC supergrids to move the excess around.

(Or just start building nukes again)

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Let's consider the probable cost of the 4 main ways of dealing with intermittency in a society that is 100% powered by solar and wind power (Indeed it is indirectly nuclear energy as it all comes from the massive fusion reactor at the center of our solar system. Solar and wind is a genius way to implement nuclear power in a safe manner without any radioactive waste on our planet or powerplants that risk exploding and make enormous areas inhabitable for hundreds of years).

Add 1) Tesla's power packs costs 250 USD /kwh. Musk said they can do 5000 cycles. Add 50 USD /kwh to combine them in large systems at each substation on the grid. That is 0.06 USD /kwh (=(250+50)/5000)). You probably only need to store 30% of your consumed kwh in batteries. The rest is used directly. So the price for battery backup is 0.018 USD per kwh consumed (=0.06*0.3).

Add 2) Building lots of long-distance transmission lines globally is expensive but probably can be paid for by adding 2 cents per kwh consumed.

Add 4) Building and maintaining a smart grid with price adjusting meters is not costly at all. The meter may cost 200 USD and the network data traffic for 20 years use may add another 100 USD. Over 20 years the meter in a household may measure 200.000 kwh so only about 0.0015 USD /kwh for the smart grid feature (=(200+100)/200000).

Combine the cost of 1, 2 and 4 and we get 0.0395 USD /kwh. This is really not that much for clean air and saving the planet from global warming disasters (like mass extinction of species).

Still these solutions may not be enough to deal effectively with the intermittencies especially the seasonally ones. So solution 3) about overcapacity should also be added. That is the solution you start to use when you want to go from say 70% renewable to 100%. The world is currently at 6% electric generation from solar and wind power so we can safely assume we will not need to implement solution 3) until at the earliest in 2040. Today wind power is 0.06 USD per kwh and in 2040 it is at most 0.03 USD per kwh. Today utility scale solar power is about 10 cents per kwh but it will also be about 0.03 cents in 2040. So 0.03 USD /kwh for both solar and wind in 2040. How much extra capacity you need to be certain to have enough in low production seasons will depend on the climate you live in. Near equator you could probably do with 110% of the needed capacity but high up north and south of equator it will more lileky be 150%. So assuming 150% it would make electricity cost not 0.03 USD/kwh in 2040 but rather 0.045 USD. Now add the 0.04 USD /kwh from 1, 2 and 4 and you get an industial price of electricity of 0.085 USD /cents. Add distiution cost and households will end up paying about 0.014 USD /kwh in the US. Not a big deal really for clean air and a healthy planet. And we assumed Tesla's batteries will not drop in price.


"Long-distance transmission lines" in Hawaii means connecting one island to another.  The entire land mass of the island chain would fit comfortably inside Michigan, and spans a smaller distance end-to-end.  The notion of achieving "geographic diversity" of wind and solar supply in Hawaii is ridiculous.  So's the notion of a "global grid"; lines running a few tens of miles are tied up in litigation for years, and you want to run them around the WORLD?  Are you NUTS?!

Oahu could be powered by a few NuScale units with no nonsense about storage, no issues related to weather or seasons, and zero emissions.  Unfortunately, the environmentalistas have declared nuclear power anathema.

An impressive act of leadership by the Hawaiian government. Thirty years is plenty of time to get to 100% renewable grid mix. Hawaii currently burns oil for electricity, which is why its electricity prices are the highest in the nation. A move to renewables will pay dividends to future generations. The main significance is to remove the impediments to solar, something Hawaii's utilities have long been criticized for.

MJ Grieve / AHEAD Energy 501c3

I think there is a flawed assumption in the comments suggesting that going from 70% to 100% will be especially difficult and expensive based on intermittency.

Hawaii could certainly generate a meaningful amount of dispatchable power from sugarcane, biomass and biomethane. There is also significant hydroelectric and pumped storage potential. Demand side management can also significantly flatten the daily load variation.

If necessary, carbon free hydrogen and ammonia could be imported to supplement the biofuels.

100% is a lofty goal, but 30 years seems like an adequate time to transition to an optimal system.


The "impediments to solar" are "the fixed costs and essential operating characteristics of the generators which keep the grid stable instead of blacking out".

The Hawaiian utilities have been handed a problem not of their creation, that nobody has solved satisfactorily (which is why solar generation never made it even in e.g. sunny Egypt despite CS demonstrations a century ago), and told to fix it.  The only fair way to handle this is to tell the owners of solar power to fix the problems THEY created:

  1. Buffer their power output to provide dispatchable power.
  2. Provide or pay for rotating machinery, like synchronous condensers, so that the grid has the sheer mechanical inertia which keeps it stable.
  3. Supply reactive power.
Failing that, just go off-grid and eat their own dog food.

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EP HVDC GW sized long-distance transmission lines (200 miles and above) can be laid underground using superconducting cables. If it is out of sight it is out of mind and you will be able to get those permissions to build it without a lot of opposition. The reason we are not making such transmission lines today is that the fossil based power plants in the current grid have not created the need. However, when going 100% solar and wind power we will need it.

Hawaii being closer to the equatorial line and having some of its islands 500 km apart should rely mostly on solar power and less on wind power with subsea transmission lines connecting the islands into a single grid. But there are additional alternatives for Hawaii. For instance, they may also build a large heat sink and a thermal power plant to make power in the rare weather conditions with little sun and wind. Alternatively if Hawaii dramatically oversize their capacity for wind and solar power in order to produce enough in weather with little sun and wind it means that they will get a lot of low cost electricity when the weather is sunny and windy. That could enable electricity intensive industries to prosper on Hawaii such as aluminim production. However, these industries will only operate when the electricity prise is low and they will shot down when the electricity price increases as a result of weather conditions. It may sound cracy today but it will not be so crasy when solar power become the least cost power source available in 2040 at say 3 cents per kwh using average weather conditions and Hawaii being a very sunny island can therefore go lower than the 3 cents average per kwh in 2040.


Hawaii Islands may be ideal for test sites for 100% RE.

Islands like Maui with large sunny mountain tops (very sunny and almost above louds are ideal to produce solar power. Pumped Hydro could be one of the storage solution.

Of course many dry desert areas may offer even more solar energy but access to water + sufficient elevations for pumped hydro would be limited?


The problem is the variability of weather when you get a run of days with very little sun or wind and exhaust your storage.

There is no problem sizing overnight storage for solar although it will be very expensive. As hawaii is near the equator, the summer/winter daily times are similar, so winter won;t need that much more storage than summer. However, if you get a couple of very dull, still days in a row, you are in trouble and will have to start something else up.

Probably gas or biomass as MJ Grieve has suggested.

Also, the islands are very far apart for the amount of electricity being generated, undersea cables might be very expensive on a per user basis.

I still think it will be extremely expensive to go 100% renewables and they are just posturing. The politicians will all be well out of office before they have to get the last 30% in 5 years.


Each Island could have its own energy system. Most of those Islands have large high mountains tops mostly well above cloud covers. Oriented solar systems could produce 8+ hours/day.

Sea water could be desalted, pumped and stored xxx-ft high during surplus periods then used for agriculture and industries + to produce essential e-energy overnight. Most desalted water would be used at least twice, ie. to produce e-energy and for agriculture/industrial uses.

Some system could use salted sea water and return to sea after used to generate e-energy.

It could be a win-win solution.

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