Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Dream of Energy

So I was thinking. Mokulele Hwy here on Maui is a daily commute to and from Kahului to Kihei.

(the blue line on this map)

So is Haleakala Hwy. A daily commute to and from Maui's upcountry to central town.

(the letter A on this map)

All along the highway is sugar cane used by HC&S to make sugar and they've been doing this for more than 125 years. "They generate enough electrical power to handle all their plantation needs and to provide 7-8% of all the electric power used annually on Maui".

They have 35,000 acres of cane on Mokulele

and the slopes of Haleakala

and they take it after it's burned

to process it at their Pu'unene Mill.

(This is an old picture of Mokulele hwy. This highway actually has 4 lanes now.)

HC&S uses its own electric power in 2 steam plants and 3 hydroelectric plants. They reuse the fiber residue left over after all the cane juice is extracted during their milling process. About 500,000 tons of bagasse (the fiber residue) is converted to power each year and becomes a renewable source of energy equal to 500,000 barrels of oil.
(This all comes from HC&S's website

But I was thinking! All this biofuel that they create still has to burn and releases carbon dioxide, right??
I already went over ocean acidification in a previous blog, but I'll go over it again in case there are readers who haven't read it.

[Ocean acidification is when there is too much CO2 being released into the atmosphere and when our atmosphere touches the ocean (yes, it literally touches the ocean) it mixes with the water and basically makes an acid.

CO2 + H2O = H2CO3 ]

I had a thought, plausible or not, what if we were to just get rid of some of the sugar cane and put in solar panels?
Instead of acres and acres of potential carbon dioxide, how about acres and acres of free energy? Maui is almost ALWAYS sunny. And where the sugar cane are, would make great places for solar panels!

Maui is a beautiful island out in the middle of the ocean, so why waste money on growing sugar cane (when it isn't a native plant in the first place) when we can put in solar panels for the community???

I checked the U.S. Energy Information website

And Hawaii is the state the spends the most money on electricity in Residential, Commercial and Industrial areas.
Crazy right?? When we have all this free energy that's not even being used! The Sun!
If solar panels were to be put in in place of the cane, not only would that significantly REDUCE the carbon dioxide emissions into the air (making the air cleaner to breathe AND reducing the factor of ocean acidification), but it would also reduce the COST of electricity!

I've read up a bit on solar panels and installation, and it is VERY expensive to install them. But wouldn't it be better for the long run??
Jobs here on Maui are scarce so it could provide jobs for a long while for local families and in the end ultimately reduce the cost of electricity and carbon dioxide emissions.

What do you think??
I haven't researched into full detail about what kind of impact it would have, but these beginning stages seem to make sense right??

1 comment:

  1. i totally agree for a more "greener" maui...but the only thing is if we get rid of the sugar cane...all those areas of cane is going to become a dust bowl...the cane is what is keeping that entire area from eroding....if it does erode it would kill the reefs more than when there is construction or the rainy weather goes on and the runoff damages the reefs because the lack of sunlight it gets when the pollution of the runoff blocks it out....