Maui News

Kaho’olawe Sustainable Energy Program Launched

December 3, 2013, 1:27 PM HST
* Updated December 3, 1:30 PM
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Map of Kahoolawe, courtesy KIRC.

Map of Kahoolawe, courtesy KIRC.

By Maui Now Staff

A $25,000 grant from the Maui Office of Economic Development was used to establish a sustainable energy program on the Island of Kahoʻolawe.

County officials say the grant was designed to support the work of the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission in its long-term goal of converting all operations on the island to green energy.

The funds are to finance the construction and installation of a photovoltaic system to generate power for two volunteer huts located at a restored Navy base camp at Honokanaiʻa Bay.

The PV system will result in a reduction in CO2 emissions by 15.5 tons annually, or 310 tons over the life of the system, officials said.

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In launching the energy program, county officials say the sustainable initiative, “yielded an unexpected, yet remarkable outcome,” resulting in a new collaboration between the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission and the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College.

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While receiving training in photovoltaic systems design at UH Maui College, KIRC Resource Conservation Specialists worked to establish a collaboration with students in UHMC’s Sustainable Construction Technologies course.

Under the collaborative effort, students worked alongside KIRK specialists, UHMC instructors, and Rising Sun Solar and Electric to assemble and test the system on campus, disassemble, pack and ship it to Kahoʻolawe, and then reassemble and install it at Honokanaiʻa.

“We were very excited about this collaborative opportunity for students to get hands-on experience with off-the-grid photovoltaic systems, while also developing a deeper appreciation and understanding of the Hawaiian cultural values associated with Kahoʻolawe,” said UHMC professor Stuart Zinner.

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“Our vision is to create a completely renewable energy power grid on Kahoʻolawe utilizing wind and solar energy,” said KIRC Executive Director Michael Nāhoʻopiʻi in a joint press release.  “This project is a critical starting point in this direction. We are proud to partner with the next generation, who will become the new stewards of Kahoʻolawe, as we make this vision a reality.”

County officials say the project will help Maui reach its goal of “achieving 95% of all energy needs in Maui Nui sustainably with a carbon-neutral footprint by 2020.”  The project is also expected to help the KIRC in achieving its goals for power and infrastructure sustainability, while lowering costs currently financed by its diminishing trust fund.

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