Energy efforts focus on isles
The U.S. is preparing a joint effort here, and international experts will hold talks at UH
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Hawaii would become a testing ground for projects that harness wind, wave, solar, thermal and other renewable energy sources under a unique federal partnership being announced next week.
The Lingle administration says the U.S. Department of Energy envisions Hawaii, with its abundant natural resources, as a site that can serve as a model for the rest of the nation as oil becomes scarcer and economies shift to cleaner-burning fuels.
The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative is the first federal-state energy partnership of its kind, officials say.
Meanwhile, a two-day international conference to discuss climate change is convening Wednesday in Honolulu. The talks are aimed at promoting a dialogue among countries that produce the majority of the world's greenhouse gases.
The conference was convened by President Bush and is a continuation of talks initiated in Washington in September.
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Energy officials from around the world are converging on Honolulu next week.
Renewable energy resources being developed in Hawaii:
» Biomass: Biomass consists of growing plants or plant remains, which are used to produce biofuel. Examples include trees, grasses, agricultural and food processing wastes, manure, ocean plants and garbage.
» Geothermal: Geothermal energy is the natural heat of the earth, found near areas where volcanic activity has taken place.
» Hydropower: Water flowing in streams or through pipes can be used to produce electricity.
» Ocean Thermal Energy: Ocean thermal energy conversion uses the difference in temperature between the warm surface of the ocean and the cold ocean depths.
» Solar: Energy from the sun is commonly used to heat water (a "solar thermal" system) and to produce electricity (a "photovoltaic" system).
» Wave: Energy from ocean waves, tides or currents can be used to produce electricity.
» Wind: Energy from the wind can be used to produce electricity.
Source: Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism
The U.S. Department of Energy is scheduled to announce a first-of-its-kind partnership with the state that aims to accelerate development of cleaner-burning energy sources.
Officials say the initiative will position Hawaii as a model for others to follow as global economies shift away from the dependence on fossil fuels.
That announcement is scheduled for Monday, two days ahead of an international conference being convened by President Bush to discuss policy on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
Gov. Linda Lingle touched on the federal partnership, known as the "Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative," in her State of the State address, saying it would bring both technical assistance and funding to develop renewable energy projects.
It is unknown exactly how much money the projects could bring into the state.
Officials say federal agencies and the state could invest billions of dollars in the development of new energy technologies during the next several decades.
The Energy Department has already begun requesting information. The agency says it wants to hear from financiers, developers and other stakeholders about what would be needed to "create an environment conducive to streamlined, cost-effective development and financing of clean energy supply, delivery and end-use projects in Hawaii."
The overall goal is to power Hawaii using energy from the islands' natural resources, such as wind, waves, the sun or geothermal heat, "and to provide a model for similar market transformation elsewhere."
Andy Karsner, the Energy Department's assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, is expected to announce details of the project with Lingle.
Meanwhile, the climate change conference is a continuation of talks initiated by Bush in Washington in September aimed at forcing a dialogue among countries that produce more than 80 percent of the world's greenhouse gasses.
Representatives from 16 countries, the United Nations and the European Union are scheduled to meet Wednesday and Thursday at the East-West Center for the conference, titled "Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change."
"It's very significant, I think, to be urging our government to make sure that we come up with an aggressive climate change policy," said House Energy Chairwoman Hermina Morita.
The talks also come a month after a United Nations climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia, at which the European Union threatened to boycott the Honolulu gathering if the U.S. did not agree to a goal that industrial nations would strive to cut their carbon emissions by 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
That level of reduction was recommended by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in order to bring global warming into check. The Bali agreement finalized last month removed those target numbers as a concession to the U.S.
Officials from the European Union are scheduled to participate in the Hawaii conference, governor's spokesman Russell Pang said yesterday.
In addition to the United States, countries scheduled to be at the talks are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and the United Kingdom, according to the Governor's Office.
Cox News Service contributed to this report.