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Thursday, December 13, 2012

BAD AND GOOD NEWS ABOUT ELECTRICITY

I tend to avoid postings like that of today, for the visuals, data and text are overwhelmingly abstruse.  But every so often I feel compelled to provide horrifying details for the record.  So, sorry.


  • Coal 42%
  • Natural Gas 25%
  • Nuclear 19%
  • Hydropower 8%
  • Other Renewable 5%
    • Biomass 1.38%
    • Geothermal 0.41%
    • Solar 0.04%
    • Wind 2.92%
  • Petroleum 1%
  • Other Gases < 1%
Note that petroleum is only 1% nationwide, whereas this source supplies 75% of the electricity production in Hawaii, a good part of why we pay so much.  The matter of liquified natural gas will become a contentious issue because this resource appears to be attractively cheap today, but when you determine the real cost with the added infrastructure required, and the fact that any fossil fuel spews out carbon dioxide, and how we will be stuck with this form, even when the price someday jumps...well, you get the point.

Here is the world breakdown:


The world uses 18% renewables for electricity, while the U.S. is at 13%.  However, the more important difference is that the "other" sustainables provide two and a half times more in this country.



The U.S. Energy Information Agency (average for 2010--this is the latest data, with the 2011 average to come out at the end of January 2013) also reported the Hawaii had the highest electricity cost at 25.12 cents/kWh, with Connecticut #2 at 17.39 cents/kWh and New York #3 at 16.41 cents/kWh.  Anyway, the states with the lowest rates are Wyoming (6.20 cents/kWh), Idaho (6.54 cents/kWh) and Washington (6.66 cents/kWh).  The U.S. average here is 9.83 cents/kWh.  

However, the Star-Advertiser in October reported that the average electricity rate in Hawaii was now 37.7 cents/kWh.  This means that our electricity rate must have jumped up 50% in a two year period.  For the record:

  -  Oahu (33.6 cents/kWh)
  -  Maui (34.9 cents/kWh)
  -  Big Island (40.4 cents/kWh)
  -  Kauai (44.9 cents/kWh)

Most publications show the U.S. average at 12 cents/kWh.  This means that Hawaii's electricity rate is 314% that of the U.S.  Kauai is at 374%.

If you refer to the box on the right  for Gasoline Prices, and make the calculations, Hawaii pays 18% more for gasoline than the U.S. average.  314% versus 18%.  314% versus 18%.  This is why Hawaii has the had the highest solar photovoltaic activity for several years now.  I hear there are now more than a hundred companies doing this, and the issue about state incentives and cheating has become epidemic.  Governor Neil Abercrombie is upset.


Compared to the world, it all depends on what you wish to cite.  For the lowest prices, go to Bhutan (hydro) and Iran (why??), for they charge as low as 2 cents/kWh.  European prices are very high, with Denmark at 40 cents/kWh, even worse than Hawaii.  Brazil, with all that hydropower and new oil reserves shows an average of 34 cents/kWh.  Tonga? 58cents/kWh.  Solomon Islands?  83-89 cents/kWh.


However, not all is terrible about renewable electricity.  According to RenewableEnergyWorld.com:

Renewables Account for 46% New US Electrical Generating Capacity Since January

Let me repeat, nearly half of new electricity production in the country this year came from wind, solar, biomass and geothermal energy.  During this period projects included:

  -  92 windpower (5,403 MW)
  -  167 solar (1,032 MW)
  -  79 biomass (409 MW)
  -  7 geothermal (123 MW)
  -  9 hydropower (12 MW)

As a rule of thumb, Oahu averages around 1000 MW of usage.  Thus, significant, but not overwhelming, for looking at the top, note that the new sustainables only supply 5% of the electricity produced, so half of a small amount is small.  However, the promising part is that the trends look great.

I should end here, but got to report on the future of those clean energy tax incentives, now part of the fiscal cliff discussions in Congress.  If they do nothing, wind energy will, indeed, fall off a cliff, and so will all solar options.  If Mitt Romney won, kiss those green breaks goodbye.  But Barack Obama will be President for four more years. More so, even the evangelicals are helping.   So, on a happy note, there is thus hope and the renewable energy industry could well still get a crucial Christmas present.

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Tropical Cyclone Evan at 115 MPH appears to be skirting north of Samoa, but strong winds and rain are lashing that island.



Evan is heading straight for Fiji next. 

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