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Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Tourism must be booming in Hawaii.  The security line wends outside the door and most flights are filled.  From the blue of Honolulu to the black of the Big Island.  That is the 1801 flow from Hualalai (8271 feet tall), which covered the land over which Kona Airport was built.

The Big Island of Hawaii is a very special place with the full range of weather conditions:  hot deserts to snowy mountaintops--
  • With just over 4000 square miles, the island is more than twice the area of all the other Hawaiian Islands put together and larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.  
  • The population stands at 185,000:  Hilo 47,000, Kona 34,000.
  • At only 800,000, it is the youngest island, and still growing, as Kilauea Volcano has added 500 acres (says 30 years, but now past 32 years long):
    • Kilauea itself is only 2500 years old.
    • Said to be the most active volcano in the world.
    • The current eruption began on 3 January 1983...and I was there when it happened.  Read about how and why.
  • Mauna Kea at 33,476 feet, is the tallest mountain from the base (bottom of sea).
  • Has the southernmost point in the USA, South Point.
  • Kamehameha the Great was born and died on this island.

He spent his last few days on the grounds where I am staying, the King Kamehameha Hotel, a Marriott, in Kailua-Kona.  My view towards the former Kona Hilton (white building in the background, now called Royal Kona Resort, located 0.8 miles away):

There was a time when I was secretary of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority Board and also was part-owner of a company there to grow pearl oysters, and stayed at that hotel.  So, I thought I'd take a hike and get some exercise.  Huggos is still there:

See that manta ray at the entrance to Huggos, now with On the Rocks added to the name?  At one time this was a hot spot, for manta rays came at night, as the restaurant was feeding them.  This was illegal, so no more mantas.  However, there are companies to take you snorkeling with them, and the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay seven miles down south touts its proximity.

So, finally, my view back to the King Kam from the former Hilton:

That's Don the Beachcomber to the left, where, they brag, the Mai Tai was invented.

As this is OTEC week, I should mention that the Third International Ocean Symposium will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on September 1 and 2.  Here is the program, featuring Luis Vega and Yasu Ikegami.  The gathering is chaired by my friend, Dr A. Bakar Bin Jaafar:

Well, I'm at the 6th Annual Ocean Energy Workshop of the Hawaii-Okinawa Clean Energy Cooperation with 55 participants.  (Much of the italicized statements are personal.)   I will report on the highlights as they occur.  First, Professor Ikegami came up to say hi, so I took a photo of him:

I then met with Mayor Haruo Ota of Kumejima Town.  Here he is to the left, with Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi to the right:

Jan War of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority and I exchanged old OTEC war stories, for he has been doing this since around 1977, 2 years before me:

There was a moment of remembrance for Guy Toyama.  The Guy Toyama Memorial Fund has been created to provide scholarships for sustainability, entrepreneurship and Hawaii/Japan relations.  Guy and I first conceived of Blue Revolution Hawaii five years ago.  He was, indeed, a visionary.

Four students from Kumejima made a presentation in English.  They reported that the population of their island has dropped from 14,000 in 1965 to 8,000 today.   But everyone remains happy!  OTEC could well be their salvation.

Julie Yunker, the BI Energy Program Strategy Officer, and Takatoshi Tomoyose, Okinawa Prefecture Government, provided an update of the Hawaii-Okinawa Agreement and the Okinawa Energy Vision Action Plan.  Okinawa and Hawaii are both island states with the same population (1.4 million).  Like Hawaii, Okinawa is almost totally dependent on oil and other fossil fuels.  Clearly, renewable energy must be our combined goal.  Historically, sugar, with a shift towards tourism, with both sites having around 7 million visitors/year.  The weather is similar and we are both bothered by hurricanes.  The difference is that they are regularly attacked by Category 4/5 storms, while not one hurricane has made landfall in Hawaii, except for Kauai.  Miyakojima is Japan's Smart Energy Island.  Hard to believe that it was 23 years ago when I helped form Green Enertopia, selecting Miyakojima as Japan's future sustainable resource site.  [NOTE BELOW THAT MIYAKOJIMA AND KUMEJIMA ARE CLOSE TO THE INCOMING PATH OF SUPERTYPHOON GONI!!!]

The next speaker was Associate Professor Yasuyuki Ikegami (the room was dark), who provided an overview of all the previous OTEC workshops.  The first agreement occurred in March of 2010 in Hawaii, followed by the first Ocean Energy Workshop in 2010 in Kumejima.  These gatherings alternated between Kumejima and Kona.  Okinawa and Hawaii are the only two sites in Japan and the U.S. ideal for OTEC, which is one of the few options capable of providing baseload electricity.  Small OTEC (10 MW and less) is not economical, so cooperation is being sought for international cooperation.  Perhaps the first will be France's effort in Martinique for half a billion dollars, targeted for operation in 2018.   These workshops proposed:
  • The OTEC and Hydrogen Project as an Island Model.
  • A floating project.
  • 1 and 10 MW demonstrations.
Duke Hartman (again, dark, but it's amazing how well the photo turned out considering that the lights were off) of Makai Ocean Engineering talked about their 105 kW demonstration project at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority.  Initial grid connection occurred in June  They will host a ceremony on Friday.  He focused on MOTEM:  Makai OTEC Thermodynamic Economic Model.  The next step?  With Okinawa, build a 1 MW OTEC plant at NELHA, for there is sufficient cold water for this size.  Just the 4 meter diameter pipe and pumps cost of $34 million.  Then?  Perhaps a 10 MW commercial facility off Okinawa.

Greg Barbour, NELHA director, gave an update of the 1 MW pilot plant.  He thanked the County of Hawaii for continuing to support these workshops, as important relationships have been established.  Barbour proposed a joint venture for Okinawa and Hawaii to together build this system at NELHA, as a stepping stone to the 10 MW power plant in Okinawa.  The 1 MW plant should feed around a three quarter million/year worth of electricity, which would be reimbursed to Okinawa and Hawaii on a pro-rata formula.

Yoshinagi Takanayagi of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization spoke on the NEDO Ocean Energy Policy.  (The fact that NEDO sent a Japanese representative to this meeting was significant--both the U.S. Department of Energy and NEDO have had negative attitudes about OTEC since the 1980's).
  • 3.2% of energy in Japan is provided by renewables.    
  • I might not be interpreting this correctly, but more than 18,000 MW of renewable electricity capacity have been added since the Fukushima debacle, almost all solar PV.  That is the equivalent of 18 nuclear power plants  
  • Wind energy conversion systems of up to 7MW are now available, and sizes to 10MW are being developed.
  • Two ocean energy (all types of technologies) efforts
    • System demonstration to achieve 40 yen/kW
    • System demonstration to achieve 20 yen/kW
  • I had to step out to take a call, but he never once mentioned OTEC, as such, in my presence.
Norio Nakamatsu of the Okinawa Prefectural Government discussed their OTEC demonstration project.  Okinawa's renewable electricity now up to 5.2%, mostly solar PV.  Goal is 20% in 2030.  Unlike the national government, Okinawa's primary interest is in OTEC.  Their 100 kW OTEC facility: 
  • Essentially ran continuously and autonomously throughout the year.
  • Performance matched or exceeded expectations.
  • Lightning and typhoons caused some peripheral equipment failure.
  • Now better know maintenance costs.
  • Confirmed Okinawa as a candidate site for land and sea based OTEC.
  • Better know now the potential value of the deep ocean water.
  • Okinawa selected as the official national OTEC demonstration field, putting Japan ahead of America in recognizing the reality of OTEC.  Japan Marine United Company and Saga University will lead the work.
They will need around $100 million for a 1 MW demonstration plant.  (Thus, the offer of Greg Barbour to team on such a facility at NELHA makes considerable sense.)  The concept can also be used for Miyako, Ishigaki and the main island.

The luncheon speaker was Mike Kaleikini of Puna Geothermal Ventures on their operation in Puna.  The 38 MW production system features zero emissions.  They are negotiating with Hawaii Electric Light Company for a 25 MW expansion, but one problem is that the City Council recently imposed a no night drilling requirement, which needs to be reversed.

In the afternoon session, Laurence Sombardier and Keith Olsen gave an overview of NELHA's SCADA (Supervisory Contrl and Data Acquisition) System, which distributes 30 gallons of seawater/day.  The system must also maintain environmental quality.  A pitch was made to build that long awaited 1 MW OTEC plant.  This would become only the second positive OTEC facility ever, with Lockheed's Mini-OTEC in 1979 being the first.

Shin Okamura of XENYSYS Inc. provided an update of their recent OTEC experiments:
  • Titanium heat exchanger (HX) solutions for both the evaporator and condenser.
  • Gave breakdown of a 10 MW floating system, where 16% would go for the HX and 25% to the floating structure.
  • XP plate of titanium might be of advantage, where biofouling was negligible.
Hiroshi Yamamoto of Yokogawa Electric Corporation, which this year celebrates its centennial.  talked on the optimization of life-cycle operation for OTEC.  He provided an impressive array of considerations for running the plant.  (It occurred to me that Japanese companies are far ahead of their U.S. counterparts in following through with the technology when the funds flow.)

Yuka Kitakoji of Japan Marine United Corporation spoke on the construction technology for floating structures.  This concept is to be utilized for the Fukushima floating wind farm.

Akio Okamoto of Kobe Steel Ltd. spoke on the applications of titanium for the evaporator and condenser.  The improved conductivity overcomes the high cost, compared to aluminum.  Using a special polka dot surface for the evaporator.  However, a 150 MW OTEC plant would use the entire titanium mill production of Japan.  The solution is to use thinner sheets specially strengthened through the application of ridges.

The afternoon session concluded with a panel discussion (above), moderated by John DeLong, determining recommendations for the Hawaii-Okinawa Energy Agreement and resolution of support for the 1 MW OTEC demonstration at NELHA.  Right to left:  Reiko Hamano (translator), Greg Barbour, Michael Eldredge, Yasu Ikegami and Shin Okamura.

Dr. Ikegami called me the father of OTEC and asked me to provide any insights.  I presented a historic perspective, indicating that 36 years ago, just after Lockheed succeeded with Mini OTEC off the Natural Laboratory of Hawaii, I was working for Senator Spark Matsunaga, so was asked to help draft the first OTEC legislation that became law.  A few years later I returned to the University of Hawaii and with the new dean of engineering Paul Yuen, and a lot of important people, created the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research.  The showcase project was OTEC, and, in terms of 2015 dollars, we put together, with Japan, a $50 million project, $16 million from Japan.  The 250 kW open cycle project worked wonderfully, producing stable electricity and freshwater, and this experience provides a clue on how the current U.S.-Japan management of the proposed 1 MW OTEC facility might proceed.

OTEC is such a newly developing technology that cooperation is the best strategy to advance the concept.  Approximately $25 million would be required to complete the task, for the cold water pipe is already in place.  Otherwise, Japan might have to pay $100 million to build a new 1 MW project on Okinawa.  The blockbuster announcement was that all the stakeholders (the speakers at this workshop) agreed to cooperate in building that 1MW OTEC facility at NELHA:

Tomorrow, part 2 of the workshop.

Typhoon Goni is at a dangerous 130 MPH, and will skirt the east side of Taiwan, causing considerable damage, while moving towards Miyakojima, Japan's solar island, then toward Kagoshima:

Super Typhoon Atsani is at 155 MPH, but all models show this monster affecting Ogasawara from the west, but continuing to move northwest away from Japan:

In the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Danny at 50 MPH will attain hurricane strength, and head in the general direction of Puerto Rico, but sufficiently weaken back into a tropical storm before affecting any major populated island:


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