Geothermal energy, whilst still much smaller than solar or wind, is growing in popularity.
Excellent analysis of the geothermal challenge facing Hawaii, and, in particular, the Puna District where Puna Geothermal Venture is located. John Daly of oilprice.com says Hawaii’s isolation has resulted in the importation of fossil fuels to provide 94% of the state’s energy needs. This is something that poses severe economic risk for the state. Daly says geothermal, hydroelectric, and wave generation are the only 24/7 energy producers that can provide Hawaii with an energy cushion. All of these technologies are being pursued by Hawaii Electric Industries, state officials, and University of Hawaii research teams. Geothermal energy produced on Hawaii Island has two significant drawbacks–noise and hydrogen sulfide gas, a toxic substance generated in active volcanic vents and found at the Puna Geothermal Venture site. Many Puna residents are deeply concerned that toxic gases could destroy their way of life. The challenge for the Hawaii Electric Light Company is to minimize public exposure to toxic gases while generating sufficient power to meet island needs. This issue is particularly important now that the utility wants to drill additional geothermal wells on Hawaii Island. Daly suggests that this disadvantage of locally produced geothermal power could be offset somewhat by investing in more hydroelectric and wave energy technologies. Hawaii’s energy problem doesn’t have a single solution. The state must use all of its energy resources, including solar and wind, to wean itself from the uncertainties of imported fossil fuels. This is an incisive, informative article. Aloha, Russ.
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