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Monday, June 26, 2017

MY DAY AT THE FOUR SEASONS HUALALAI

The Four Seasons Hualalai rests at the foot of Mount Hualalai, a bit taller than 8000 feet, last erupting only about two hundred years ago.  This is a dormant volcano, so....

The next few postings will focus on FSH, one of my top three hotels.  As close to perfection as this hotel might be, there are some faults.  When I checked in the reservation I made for dinner at Ulu was not registered.  I had even received a response from their concierge two weeks ago.  

Turns out this was more good than bad, for I was supposed to have a 5:30 table for the sunset, but my huge 1PM lunch at Beach Tree made 7:30 at Hualalai Grill a lot more enjoyable.  I had two specially prepared grilled steak tacos with a tasty gazpacho, accompanied by a draft beer and cabernet meritage:


As a kamaaina (local person), the price is in the range of 30-40% less than an alien, so whatever room they give is good enough.  Mine was just off the 18th hole:


You can see the flagstick.  Room 3703 would be terrific during the annual Champions Tour held here.

I decided to take an hour walk which became two hours when I made a few wrong turns:


I might add, only a few of this lizard, but skinnier darker ones flit around on the walkways, so if you have a fear of small dinosaurs, this is not the place for you.  At least a dozen, or two, crossed my path as I walked around.  But I did not see any flying cockroaches nor ants.  That is the full 18th hole looking towards my room.

I went back to my room to take a shower and followed with a large glass of ice filled scotch to watch the sunset.  It was just about here that I dropped Pearl's Ashes #4:  


Hawaii is in the midst of King Tides, where the sea level has exceeded historic values.  The wave remnants just about got up to my recliner on the beach.

I then walked over to Hualalai Grill.  I still had my now iceless scotch in hand, but the staff showed no negative reaction and showed me to my table.  I ordered a New York strip with Caesar Salad and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon:


They feature vegetables and beef from this area. The animals are grass fed, so they tend to be tough.  I don't think they grow Romaine lettuce here.  I thus indicated that this was not a Caesar salad, and I had difficulty eating the steak.  Mind you, it was very tasteful, but I had to spit out most of the meat.  I felt somewhat guilty, but they charged me only for the glass of wine.  In a way, that is the spirit of Four Season Hualalai.  The service is similar to the best you can find in the Orient.

The best meal I had was breakfast, but I'll save that for tomorrow with the title:  HAVE YOU EVER HAD A $100 JAPANESE BREAKFAST?  On Thursday, I'll continue my serialization of PEARL'S ASHES, then on Thursday, a comparison of Four Seasons Hualalai with 15 Craigside:  Which is Heaven and Which is Purgatory?

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There is new hurricane, Dora, off Mexico:


The wind speed is up to 85 MPH, but the projection is an early fizzlement way before getting anywhere near Hawaii.

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

THE FUTURE OF OTEC AND THE BLUE REVOLUTION

Day Two of the 8th Ocean Energy and Economic Development Symposium and Workshop was held at the King Kamehameha Hotel where I'm staying.  I found the sessions to be stimulating and educational.  The day began with a personalized presentation by Henk Rogers, Dutch-born gaming tycoon and one of the richest men in Hawaii.  I am acquainted with his daughter Julie and son Mike.  He and billionaire Pierre Omidyar (French born Iranian who founded eBay) are two of the most responsible citizens in the state.

Henk told us his life story of how he, after he got wealthy, almost died of a blood clot, which almost totally changed his life and attitudes.  He founded Blue Planet Foundation and is about as opposite from Donald Trump as anyone can be.

Professor Yasu Ikegami of Saga University then reviewed the past seven gatherings of this group.  His powerpoint was so complete that I abandoned my prepared talk and, maybe for the first time in my life operated on an extemporaneous mode (I added these visuals below to this posting to dress up my statements, plus "adjusted" some details).  
  • As I had previously seen Professor Ikegami's presentation, I had pretty much previously decided to only give a concise history of OTEC from my perspective, my role in setting the stage for these gatherings, ending with a speculation of the future, and why it was important for the participants to maintain their enthusiasm.
  • I mentioned it was the French that started this all more than a century ago and that I was working for U.S. Senator Spark Matsunaga in 1979 when Lockheed succeeded with Mini-OTEC off the coast of the Keahole Point, where the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) is located.  
  • Matsunaga was responsible for securing the use of that Navy barge, so he asked me to produce an OTEC R&D bill, which became law within the year.  One of the bullets in the legislation was an expectation of 10,000 MW of OTEC by 1999.  It is nearly twenty years past that date and the total amount of OTEC electricity capacity today is 205 kW, about evenly split between Kumejima and NELHA.  That is 0.205 MW.  Yes, that's me to the extreme right.
  • Another bill I originally drafted in the three-year period I spent in the U.S. Senate was the Matsunaga Hydrogen Act.  This is another technology that shows long term promise, but remains in dreamland, no matter what those auto companies seem to suggest.
  • However, I indicated to the audience that I was not a total failure, for I joined other staffers in Congress to pass the first wind energy bill.  Of course, the Congressmen and Senators were recorded as responsible for all that, but we had to do all the work.  Almost forty years later, wind energy is now cheaper to generate electricity compared to new coal or nuclear power plants, and one-third the cost of rooftop solar photovoltaics, although utility scale PV farms are becoming very competitive.  (You can better see the details by clicking on it.)
  • When I returned to the University of Hawaii in 1982, the new dean of the College of Engineering, Paul Yuen, and I, with a lot of help from Senators Matsunaga and Dan Inouye, and Congressman Dan Akaka, plus Governor George Ariyoshi and University President Fujio Matsuda, created the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research (PICHTR).
  • Read the story here, but, essentially, in 1983 Senator Matsunaga convinced President Ronald Reagan to ask Japan Prime Minister Yasu Nakasone for both countries to work together to develop OTEC, with PICHTR to coordinate the research.  An agreement was reached, and Japan supplied about a third of the $25 million (equivalent to $58 million today) fund to build a 255 kW open cycle OTEC facility at NELHA.
  • In 1984 I went to Lockheed in California to meet with Lloyd Trimble, Berkeley with Luis Vega and Gerard Nihous, Colorado with Andy Trenka and Japan with Steve Masutani (who is from Hawaii) to join PICHTR for this endeavor.  All came, and it took until 1992 to design and build this reactor, which operated until 1998.  Using open cycle was significant, for freshwater is a natural by-product, and there is no secondary fluid like ammonia or freon.  This should minimize the backlash that will come from environmentalist and other activists when the first floating platform to house this technology is announced.
  • In 1991 Hawaii State Senator Richard Matsuura and I presented the first paper on the Blue Revolution. a concept that returns as the key to the future. (That was from The Huffington Post, but this blog site also had a posting on the subject.)  I found this quote in the archives (Matt is the son of Senator Spark Matsunaga):
"The state has lost a visionary statesman," said Senate Judiciary Committee Co-Chairman Matt Matsunaga (D, Palolo) this morning. "He was a role model for kids and a champion for good government. His family has lost a loving father and husband. And I have lost a friend, mentor and hero."

  • Also around this time I helped form Green Enertopia, an international alliance to select symbolic islands for energy self-sufficiency.  Miyakojima from Japan, Cheju of South Korea, Cypress of the European Union and the Big Island of Hawaii were among the finalists.  Later, Kumejima appeared specifically for OTEC.  I thus travelled to Okinawa on several occasions in the 1990's into the early 2000's, and helped set the stage for the Hawaii State Department of Business and Economic Development to coordinate a clean energy program with Okinawa.  The original acronym was ALOHA, with O for Okinawa and H for Hawaii.  The efforts of Seiji Naya, Maurice Kaya and Mark Glick ultimately resulted in these Kumejima/NELHA meetings.  Interestingly enough, Mark left DBEDT (they later added tourism) and is now my next door neighbor in the Pacific Ocean Science and Technology Building at Manoa.  I jokingly mentioned that I'm the only academician in the world who probably still has a campus office more than 17 years after retirement.
  • But the future was the focus of my talk and I pontificated on the Blue Revolution, where proposed is a project to build the Pacific International Ocean Station (PIOS), a creation of Blue Revolution Hawaii, which Guy Toyama and I formed just around the time these Kumejima/Big Island sessions began.  Sad that Guy and Richard Matsuura passed away early.  Further, Guy and Paul Yuen died within three days of each other in 2012.
  • Why is the Blue Revolution so important to the participants of this symposium?  Well, OTEC is the heart of the system, providing energy and deep ocean water, which can lead to marine biomass plantations, biofuels, the ultimate ocean ranch, hydrogen and a cornucopia other natural products.  But, more so, there is the potential for environmental enhancement:  remediating global warming and preventing the formation of hurricanes.
  • As an aside, I speculated on whether this next generation fishery could feature whale sharks to replace cattle.  If you have qualms about this possibility, click on that link and remember that cows and bulls are warm-blooded.  
  • The main reason why this particular fish, which is a shark, not a whale, is that it feeds at a low trophic level, so as the available upwelled nutrients can only produce so much biomass, you can produce at least a hundred times more whale shark than yellow-fin tuna.  Morbid, yes, but this 40-foot female of the specie, which can live up to 150 years, produces several hundred babies, which will grow to more than 100 pounds in a year, and this would be the marketable item.  Remember that a cow only gives birth to mostly one calf.
  • But back to the main point, we have determined that PIOS would cost $1.5 billion, and did not expect any government or company to provide sufficient funds.  The only option left, therefore, was a billionaire or two seeking a legacy.  The ocean, not space, is the next economic development frontier.  The International Space Station (ISS) cost $150 billion, will not provide any kind of commercial return, and will crash to Earth in 2025.  PIOS is a mere 1% of ISS, and could pave the way towards abundant sustainable resources for Humanity and relief for Planet Earth.
  • Thus, I re-emphasized that the Blue Revolution, first, needs OTEC to be perfected, a prime role of these conferees, and second, success at finding that enlightened donor or more.
At this point in the morning, it was only around 9:30, and, though I took photos of all the speakers, I'll skip to the end because enough is enough.  However, click on THIS to view the entire two day program.

Not only did we have presentations, there were four discussion groups (leader):
  • OTEC Technology (Duke Hartman, Makai Ocean Engineering)
  • Education and International Cooperation (Yoichi Shimizu, University of the Ryukyus)
  • Deep Sea Water Industry (Jan War, NELHA)
  • Environmental Considerations (Keith Olson, HOST Park)
I chaired the final panel where the above individuals presented their findings.  Robert Baughman (Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology), and Yasuyuki Ikegami (Saga University) added their views as part of the panel.  We were supposed to enter into a discussion with the audience, but the time was getting close to 5PM, and this was a Saturday.

There nevertheless was continued enthusiasm and a remarkably upbeat attitude throughout the two day period, even though nothing much was today happening with the commercial development of OTEC.  The cuisine served was commendable and the various products of the deep cold water at Kumejima and the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority appear to be doing well.  I was especially enthralled with sea grapes, which are like caviar, but not as salty.  The group agreed to meet next September in Kumejima, and I would not be surprised if more than a 100 conferees attend.  








I closed the discussion with a statement that OTEC will not show any kind of revival unless the price of oil skyrockets, or something like global warming becomes so serious that a major carbon tax is enacted for the world.  I think I was the only individual who even mentioned Donald Trump, but I'll skip that comment.  In the meantime, we need to advance the field as much as possible so that when the time comes, the field will be ready to move quickly.  The partnership between the islands of Kume and Hawaii (Big Island) could well be that necessary link to maintain vitality and continuity.

John De Fries provided an appropriate philosophical close to the proceedings.  We took a group photo:


And returned for a drone photo:


I came away with a more optimistic feeling about the future of OTEC and the Blue Revolution.  Like wind energy, which started slowly but has now become entrenched as a major factor in sustainability, the ocean is evolving as a future factor in Saving Planet Earth and Humanity.

Next, on the Four Seasons Hualalai!

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

OKINAWA-HAWAII CLEAN ENERGY COOPERATION: 8thOEEDSW

8thOEEDSW, of course, stands for the title of the posting yesterday:  8th Ocean Energy and Economic Development Symposium and Workshop.  Our first stop was Hale Iako, in a newly refurbished and expanded structure where the first day conference was held.  Iako is the Hawaiian term for connector (middle portion) of a double-hulled canoe, like Hokulea, and is symbolic of the purpose of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, which is to connect people to technology to the ocean and so on.  To the left, Yasu Ikegami, the current Japan professorial authority on ocean thermal energy conversion, and Kumejima Mayor Haruo Ota.

The tour continued with a look at the 105 kW Makai OTEC facility, here, Mike Eldredge with Reiko, translator:


This is not a leaning tower, just the angle of my shot.  The Kumejima system produces 100 MW.  Then on to the Kanaloa Octopus Farm:


They have yet to close the growth cycle, so commercialization is some years away.  We dropped by the ESPEC mineral-enriched vegetable operations (we will later have their lettuce for lunch):


The Hawaii Natural Energy Institute has a hydrogen transport operation here, as explained by Aaron McCall:


We had to skip the abalone tour because we were late, and began the program with John De Fries from the Friends of NELHA who was superb as moderator:


Kumu Lily Dudoit provided the Hawaiian dedication and welcome:


Tom Goya, also from the Friends, and formerly with Hawaii Electric Light Company, commemorated Okinawa's Memorial Day, June 23.  


Julie Yunker, Strategy Officer for the State of Hawaii, provided the state welcome:


Will Okabe, Managing Director, gave the Hawaii County welcome:


Mayor Haruo Ota did the same for Kumejima:


Tsutomu Miyahira did it for the central government of Japan:


Greg Barbour gave a NELHA update:


The OTEC commercialization roadmap was especially informative, for the current plans are now to build "only" a 100-300 kW operational OTEC power plant by 2021, effectively ceding the 1 MW to the Kumejima facility.  Then NELHA will jump to an offshore (meaning on a floating platform) 5 MW OTEC facility around 2030.  This is certainly a realistic projection in consideration of the partnership with Kumejima and the severe environmental constraints demanded by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Lunch was free and incredible:


Kona Kampachi with Spirulina Misoyaki, Kona Cold Lobster Loui Salad, Big Island Abalone Sashimi, that special high mineral lettuce and rice.  If only they had served glasses of Chardonnay, that would have been perfect.

In the afternoon Robert Baughman, Executive Vice President for Technology Development and Innovation with the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, talked about his truly innovative institution:


He has effectively been with OIST since the beginning in 2005.  Only a 5-year PhD program, originally, the objective was to produce Nobel Laureates in science.  I've posted on this effort several times.  Here is one.  My sense, talking to Baughman and those involved with that school, gives me an impression that the goals are shifting.  Sure, of course, produce future Nobel prize winners, but also attempt to link with the needs of Okinawa and real world applications.  Even though the T stands for technology, unfortunately, the current staff is so fundamentally scientific, that there is a lack of individuals with the necessary vision and capability to capably make this shift.  Further, in energy, they're into bioethanol and wave power, two declining fields.  But they have yet to attain maximum staffing, so future hires should be able to bridge that gap.

The next speaker was a revelation.  Stephen Walls, policy advisor to Strategic Programs in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy.  


With Donald Trump now as president, I wonder if it was safe for him to say positive things about islands and energy self-sufficiency.  Maybe the current staff in the USDOE will maintain a James Comey-like adherence to what is right and necessary.  President Trump can't fire all 2.8 million working for the Federal government.  This does not include those in military uniform.


Julie Yunker returned to detail Hawaii's Clean Energy Transformation. 


Note that the Big Island is already at 54% self-sufficiency.  I later discussed with her what those percentages meant.  She said all those numbers you see, like 100% renewables by 2045, only apply to electricity.  So I asked her, if Hawaii reaches that 100% goal, what would really be the percentage for all the energy we use.  She and Steve Wall surmised, maybe 33%, for 67% goes towards transportation, and aviation uses more than ground transport.  Read my Huffington Post article on The Future of Sustainable Aviation, and you can only get depressed about future prospects.

Wil Roston, Energy Coordinator for the County of Hawaii reviewed their statistics and efforts:


Osamu Ashimine, from the Okinawa government talked about their energy strategy:


Our final speaker was Jay Ignacio, president of Hawaii Electric Light Company, on their strategy:


I was curious as to why, way into the future, I forgot the date, HELCO plans to double solar energy use, while keeping wind energy constant, when the price of the latter is half the former.  So I went to talk to him.  His response was that this is what the people want.  More in jest, I said, is that smart?

For a little more than an hour the participants split into two groups to talk about Deep Seawater Industries and Environment Considerations, led by Jan War, chief operations officer of NELHA, and Keith Olson, Chief Science Officer of the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park.


There will be two more of these discussion groups, and at the end of the day tomorrow I will moderate the summary presentations of all four.

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