If you’re reading this, you likely already understand the immediate need to replace fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy. The environmental and health consequences of fossil fuel use are far-reaching and extreme. These preordained repercussions are starting to backfire, making it necessary to find suitable alternatives.
Hawaii is quickly becoming a national leader in renewable energy initiatives, as the state has mandated the use of 100% renewable energy by 2045. Despite this leadership, there are still questions as to the most effective route forward, and many experts are pointing to the most capable solution…biomass
Bioenergy generated from biomass is the form of renewable energy with the most potential to replace fossil fuels while maintaining a comparable production capacity. This piece will outline precisely why biomass is the best renewable energy choice to replace fossil fuels in Hawaii.
Less Expensive Power Bills
Currently, Hawaii is more dependent on fossil fuels than any other state, as 80% of the energy Hawaii uses is derived from fossil fuels. All of this fuel is imported from other states or countries, making electricity costs expensive for residents. More specifically, fossil fuel production at Keahole costs $.30 per kWh. While some initiatives are in place to convert Keahole to a biodiesel facility, this would only increase the production cost to $.43 per kWh.
Biomass presents an opportunity to reduce the costs of power bills across Hawaii Island. The Honua Ola Bioenergy facility is offering an honest cost of $.20 per kWh on average. Utilizing bioenergy on the island will remove the need to import fossil fuels, thus drastically reducing electricity costs. When reports prove that Hawaii’s electricity cost is double the national average, residents deserve a less expensive alternative. Reducing or eliminating the import of fossil fuels could actually reduce the current price of electricity by 50%.
Production Capacity / FIRM Energy Source
Energy production sources come in two primary forms, “firm” and “non-firm.” Fossil fuel is a firm power source, which means it has enough production capacity to guarantee availability 24/7. This means that another “firm” source of energy is required to replace fossil fuels. The renewable “firm” energy sources are limited as wind and solar are both classified as “non-firm.” On the other hand, bioenergy is “firm” energy, which makes it the perfect replacement for fossil fuels.
If Hawaii Island depends on solar energy as the primary replacement, fossil fuels will always be needed to fill in the gaps. Solar and battery technology is not advanced enough to reliably generate power 24/7 and support the grid. This is why bioenergy is the most capable renewable energy to replace fossil fuels.
Reductions in Pollution
It’s undeniable that fossil fuels damage the environment and negatively impact people’s health around the globe. Carbon emissions generated from the combustion of fossil fuel accounts for 75% of the total U.S. anthropogenic GHG emissions.
On the other hand, bioenergy is carbon neutral, as emissions are absorbed and stored through the process of photosynthesis. This means that transitioning to bioenergy will reduce the net Carbon that is released and lower GHG emissions immediately.
We are at a turning point and cannot continue to rely on fossil fuels to power our cities. While there are many renewable energy sources to take advantage of, biomass has demonstrated that it is the only true replacement. Whether it is reducing energy production costs, production capacity, or reductions in pollution, bioenergy holds the key to Hawaii’s renewable energy future.