Cleantech Market Intelligence
Hawaii Becoming a Test Bed for Clean Technology
Earlier this month, the government of Hawaii and Korean partners (the Republic of Korea Ministry of Knowledge Economy and the Korea Smart Grid Institute) signed a letter of intent to pursue mutual interests in smart grid development in the Hawaiian Islands. While the project scope and specific practices for the Hawaii project are not clearly defined in the announcement, it’s safe to assume that projects included in the Jeju Island smart energy program, including smart meters, renewable energy development, and electric vehicles, would be implemented in Hawaii.
Hawaii comprises more than 120 scattered islands and is far from the nearest mainland (1,860 miles). Electricity is expensive, and Hawaii is the most fossil fuel-dependent state in the nation. Thus, the need for switching to renewable sources of energy is as much an economical imperative as it is an environmental one for the islanders.
With regards to policy, Hawaii is deeply committed to developing a clean-energy economy. The island state has made great progress in aligning regulatory policies with clean energy goals; encouraging development of next generation, clean energy technologies; and deploying renewable generation and grid infrastructure. As a result, the state has been building energy efficiency, increasing photovoltaic capacity, and creating green jobs. The following figures show how much Hawaii has been deploying clean-energy technologies relative to the other 49 states.
I’ve written several blogs about the Jeju projects. As of now, over 170 Korean companies are engaging in specific projects, including advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), electric vehicles, solar and renewable generation, and energy storage test beds. In the case of AMI, 6,000 household are participating in a smart meter test. The Ministry of Knowledge and the Smart Grid Institute are leading the project with investments totaling more than $240 million between 2009 and 2013.
In fact, South Korea is an exceptional country. With a sole utility service provider – KEPCO – and its current advanced electricity grid capabilities, South Korean camps are targeting oversea markets, rather than domestic markets, from the first phase. Focusing on overseas smart grids markets will help Korean players find more lucrative opportunities. Thus the partnerships with Hawaii should help Korean providers gauge their current capabilities by applying Jeju’s outcomes in a similar environment in the United States. Jeju and Hawaii both have clean, year-round, and renewable energy resources, including abundant sun and wind. Tourism is the major industry in both places, and Hawaii and Jeju both hope to maintain their unique ecosystems with clean energy sources.
Japanese partners already initiated a joint U.S.-Japanese smart grid demonstration project in November, 2011 on Maui. Those two projects with Asian players could make progress to achieve Hawaii’s goals.