Take a ride in
On one parcel of this government-created energy laboratory, rows of mirrors shine white-hot in the sun, turning heat into energy. On another, brown water tanks harbor strands of algae that will be made into fuel. Nearby is a wind turbine whose blades spin parallel to the ground.
"It's an awesome amount of things going on here,"
said Baird, chief executive of National Energy Research Laboratory of
Hawaii Authority, which is helping to nurture 42 green private-sector
businesses on 877 acres of land in
That ambitious target blows the solar panels off
This tropical paradise is an energy beggar that
depends almost solely on oil to fuel its vehicles and stoke its power
plants. That's left the state, which doesn't produce a drop of crude,
vulnerable to spills, price swings and geopolitics.
"We really are the canary in the coal mine," said
More worrisome still is global warming. The threat of rising seas and pounding storms linked to climate change has put
"We're adopting policies and technologies here that can serve as a model for the rest of the globe," said
The state this year began requiring all new homes be built with solar water heaters.
The policies stem from an agreement
About 6.5 percent of
But experts said
"It's easier for
In addition to its role as a green business incubator, the lab is a leading center for research on generating electricity by exploiting temperature differences between deep and shallow layers of sea water, a process known as "ocean thermal energy conversion."
NELHA is also a showplace for innovations including seawater air conditioning. That technology uses cold, deep ocean water to cool the fresh water that circulates in a building's air conditioning system, eliminating the need for power-sucking chillers.
Baird likes to say that his office, which, like
other NELHA buildings, uses the ocean air conditioning system, "is so
cold I could lease it to
The military is also experimenting with electric generating turbines off the coast of
Some proactive homeowners, such as
The family's utility bill dropped from
Having a working refrigerator and lights was proof enough that they'd done the right thing, Young said, even if none of their neighbors followed suit.
"In the night, the electricity had gone off and everyone was having problems," Young said. "But we were still lit."
SOURCE: Los Angeles Times. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (c) 2010.