Posts filed under ‘Wind’

Wind Turbine Makes 1,000 Liters of Clean Water a Day in the Desert

 Marc Parent, founder of Eloe Water, has developed a wind turbine that makes both electricity and condenses up to 1,000 liters of water out of desert air.

Read full TreeHugger article..

May 7, 2012 at 7:50 am 1 comment

Maui To Get Battery System For Stable Clean Energy

Massachusetts-based A123 Systems for the second time in a month announced plans to provide its advanced nanophosphate lithium ion batteries to help stabilize Maui’s power grid as fluctuating clean energy sources.

Read full Maui News article..

January 4, 2012 at 2:20 am Leave a comment

Japanese Government to Build Smart Grid on Maui

Hawaii and Japan signed off on a project Tuesday to build a smart grid on Maui to demonstrate how solar, wind and other renewable energy sources can be integrated into an electrical grid.

Read full Maui News article..

November 25, 2011 at 8:12 pm Leave a comment

Here’s an idea

Independent Living
See full size image.

November 10, 2011 at 6:29 pm Leave a comment

New Energy Projects Coming to Maui

The Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture is giving $4.3 million to five companies, who will match the grants for new energy projects, many on Maui.

The projects include a battery storage for solar generated electricity, a wind turbine system to provide energy for agriculture pumping systems, technology allowing electic utilities to better monitor the grid, biodiesel plant development and a Gas company project.

Read full Maui News article..

October 23, 2011 at 11:32 pm Leave a comment

Notes from Clean Energy Meeting, Kihei March 17, 2011


  • Situation in Japan
  • Reation what can we do
  • Why 2011 is “Solar Year”
  • Solar Investing
  • Action Items in Maui and Honolulu
  • Kanu Hawai’i – July energy challenge


  • The reactors are out of control.
  • The situation is worse than Chernobyl, which had 1 million deaths. Now there are 6 reactors compared to 1 in Chernobyl. Some commentators say this is 500 times worse.
  • Reactor 3 is run partially on plutonium which is 1000 times more dangerous, experimenting with MOX for 3 months 5-15% plutonium
  • A Google news search for plutonium incidents shows that the US media doesn’t report them, but they are big news in Germany.

What can we do?

  • Set up a web page with radiation information. Click here to see this new posting.
  • Discussion: Should we start a Facebook page for distributing information about radiation risks and protection on Maui? What organizations already exist here with those resources?
  • Call for replacing nuclear with clean energy, wind, solar.
  • The Sierra Club already has anti-nuclear position, but it hasn’t started to point what we should be learning from the Japanese events and implementing in the U.S. We are prompted to encourage the Sierra Club to more actively to promote renewable energy in place of nuclear.
  • There is much discussion now on the internet about nuclear risks and suggested political actions.
  • There is also some information about the risks on Maui from the Japanese nuclear accidents and recommended precautions.
    Click here for some online resources as of 3/18/11.
  • Radioactive Iodine (Iodine-131) was major risk from the Chernobyl nuclear plant meltdown is not as big a factor with the current situation, which is leaking more Cesium.
  • For radioactive iodine, potassium Iodide is recommended, but only when person is exposed. It’s absorbed by the thyroid, which then doesn’t take in the radioactive substance.

    Good natural sources of iodine are edible seaweed, like nori, kelp, dulse and irish moss as well as asparagus, garlic, lima beans, mushrooms, seafood, sea salt and fortified salt, sesame seeds, soybeans, spinach, summer squash, swiss chard and turnip greens.


  • PV costs have come down to between $2.80/watt (Germany) and $6.50/watt (US).
  • Chinese thin wafer technology is less expensive but can fracture more easily.
  • China is installing a new coal plant each week.
  • Safe nuclear? This is a problem because of the long half life of nuclear waste, which contains certain radioactive elements (such as plutonium-239) from “spent” fuel that will remain hazardous to humans and other creatures for hundreds of thousands of years. Other radioisotopes remain hazardous for millions of years.
  • What is needed is the political will to make the change to clean energy happen sooner. Because of the wealth and lobbying power of the established oil, coal and nuclear suppliers , this is a huge challenge. How can we make the change?
  • Suggestion: Lease rooftops to MECO to generate electricity.
    Response: MECO did survey about this and found it difficult to manage a large number of small roofs.
  • One problem with locally generated clean energy is the limited capacity of the grid to take variable energy. Reliable forms of storage are needed, perhaps incentives for homeowners to get batteries to store sun and wind generated electricity during high production and and installation of available systems that let individual batteries feed back into the grid at specific times of day, like peak demand between 7-9pm.
  • Currently the best batteries are Lithium-Ion batteries.
  • Energy can also be stored by Pumped Hydro systems, but local studies about feasibility of pumped storage at Ulupalakua revealed serious problems regarding environmental impact statements and getting permits.
  • A planned reservoir in upcountry has a cost of $100 million to build and an 18-year of permitting process. Two of those would be needed for pumped storage. MECO is only worth $100 million and they burn $300 million of oil burned/year, which is paid for by consumers. It is hard for them to invest $100-200 million in a storage system.
  • The Lanai PV farm was designed to store energy, but the battery company failed and the Chinese bought it. Lanai is just now getting a new battery.
  • The new FIT (Feed-in-Tariff), policy allows an electricity producer to upload a maximum of 250 kw to MECO for 20 years at a guaranteed rate of 21-27 cents per kw hour.
  • Net metering is better for homes than FIT, however, a producer can have a FIT meter on a separate meter from the Net Meter.


  • An investment in a PV system with a 6% interest loan gives power costs for 30 years between 14-33 cents / kWh. MECO currently charges $0.30-0.34/kWh and that will likely only get higher.
  • Inverters for PV systems are warranted for 10-15 years and will likely be replaced because of limited lifetime and improvements in technology.
  • The PV modules have 10 year warranty, but can least for up to 40 years if not damaged by a big voltage surge, people walking on top of them and creating micro fractures, or getting serious corrosion on the terminal or getting water seepage.
  • The resulting return on a PV system is between 8% and 13%, depending whether tax incentives are utilized.
  • This grows to a 31% annual return in 20 years (considering a 5.5% increase in kWh prices)
  • Commercial systems pay off in 2-4 years –
  • Investments in solar parks yield 7-14%. A solar park is where people rent out their land or their roof and others invest in the PV installation.
  • One problem is that the rush to install at the end of the year for tax write-offs chokes installation process with over demand of limited supplies.
  • People need to learn how to use the tax benefits that are year-round.
  • Need to have clean energy education for architects and bankers.
  • LEED (international green building certification system) points are given for generating energy, but not for design. Because of the current low economy, there are few LEED projects on Maui now.
  • PV installation also protect roofs, but you need to start with a roof in good condition.


  • Signs in front of PV homes or stickers on their mailboxes could show the trend.


  • These are very practical, can be placed in parking lots, give shade to parked vehicles and provide power for all the associated businesses or homes.


  • Alternating PV pipes and open space can make the right amount of shade for vegetables like tomatoes. Some panels let sunlight through and could also be installed in gardens.


  • Ground mounted systems require a building permit and they must be engineered.


  • Solar hot water was tested by, and standards developed in part by the utilities. Now it is mandated for new construction, but regulations and enforcement were not mandated. The mandate eliminated solar hot water tax credits and rebates and costs the state money for inspection. Contractors also must be trained to properly install the units.
  • Architects also need to be educated about locating solar electricity and solar water units appropriately, too limit length of pipes from source to end use.


  • These are made from amorphous materials and serve a double purpose, but are not yet efficient enough to be really practical.


  • The Small Wind Power market is still developing.
  • The vertical axis installation at the MECO office is wobbly. Same problem at the UHC. The 20′ height above the bearing creates cantilever problems on bearings.
  • All wind units get energy from their “swept area”, which is one of the most important factors in predicting energy production
  • Vertical wind turbines swept area is half the cage size because because half of the time it’s rotating into the wind.
  • The small turbines at the Ma’alea aquarium are challenged to follow shifts in wind direction.
  • Wind turbines must be high enough to avoid turbulence, which kills energy production.
  • Wind power provides better dollar per kw hours than solar in a good wind resource.
  • Durability is issue with wind equipment. There’s a 20-year design for the better units.
  • The first big Maalea turbine fell apart each week because it was an old design that wasn’t  made for the salt environment)
  • The <i>First Wind</i> farm now has storage in the form of a semi-truck sized GE battery. Their new farm will go up soon. Huge pieces of the new windmills can be seen stored beyond the fence at the end of South Holopono Street in the Maui Research Park.
  • Land is leased from the state by First Wind. Customers pay MECO which pays First Wind which pays state.
  • When excess energy is generated, it can be curtailed  by stopping the windmill from turning.
  • Construction has begun at the Auwahi Wind Energy 22-megawatt wind energy and battery storage project near Ulupalakua. Because it’s at end of power line, it needs a massive 30 MW battery.



March 19, 2011 at 2:26 am 1 comment

Inhabitat’s Top Green Stories of 2010

 The Inhabitat (design will save the world) website has posted lists of the top green stories of 2010.
Included in the top green energy category are:

The site also features:

Plus scores of other interesting articles about new green developments.

December 30, 2010 at 6:26 pm Leave a comment

Green Tech China and The New Arms Race

by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Chinese companies are now flooding the American market with cheap Chinese solar panels and devastating the American manufacturing sector that was gearing up to create tens of thousands of U.S. jobs for our own ailing economy. Hundreds of U.S. solar manufacturers now see their prospects as grim. BP Solar, Evergreen, and General Electric have already announced the closing of American-based solar panel factories and outsourcing, primarily to China.

Read full Huffington Post article..

November 20, 2009 at 9:26 pm Leave a comment

Maui County Energy Expo 2009, September 10-11

Maui’s Energy Future – From Concept to Reality
Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa

Highlights of this year’s Expo:

  • Outstanding speakers, panel discussions and presentations
  • Exhibits featuring state-of-the-art products and technologies
  • Presentations by the Maui County Energy Alliance Working Groups
  • Models of Reality: Progress Report Panel
  • Maui County Energy Alliance Working Groups Reports
  • Public Commentary
  • Key Considerations in Maui’s Next Steps: Overcoming Island Regulatory Barriers to Clean Energy
  • Key Considerations in Maui’s Next Steps:
    • Energy Efficiency & Conservation
    • Energy Storage & Integration
  • Economic Development Implications
  • Maui’s Next Steps: Now What?

The Energy Expo 2007 sold out – be sure to register early for this year’s event!

View Conference Program
Two Days—Thursday & Friday: $120—Includes continental breakfast and lunch
Thursday a.m. only: $50—Includes lunch
Thursday p.m.: Free after lunch
Friday: $90—Includes continental breakfast and lunch
*Limited Student Scholarships are available by calling the Office of Economic Development at 270-7710

Optional Pre-Conference Landfill Methane Outreach Program Workshop – Sept 9: $45/person—Includes lunch

For more information:
County of Maui Office of Economic Development
Victor Reyes, Energy Commissioner
Ph. (808) 270-7710 or email

August 4, 2009 at 5:08 pm Leave a comment

Company to aid MECO handling of finicky power

The Maui News
July 18, 2009
By Harry Eagar

You don’t have to tell the windsurfers who flock to Maui that the island is windy. But what’s fun for boardsailers can be a headache for electric grid managers.

GE Global Research announced this week that it will be a contractor in the previously announced project to enhance the ability of Maui Electric Co. to manage increasing volumes of unstable alternative energy. “The real issue is that you have a high penetration wind environment” in the electric utility, says Juan de Bedout, the global technology leader for power conversion systems at GE Global Research in New York.

That means the amount of energy on the island that comes from unstable wind is very high in proportion to the total demand for power – 15 to 30 percent. Whereas Europe, even though it has lots of windmills, still gets a percentage in the “single digits” of its power from wind. Also, in Europe the huge electrical grid connects to vast generators running on stable fossil fuels.

But little Maui is all alone – and can’t connect with a larger grid like Europe. MECO will work with GE Smart Grid to figure out how to merge even more unstable wind (and/or solar) juice into its grid without crashing the system.

In a telephone interview Friday, de Bedout said what GE is bringing to the project is “industrially hardened” technology that has already been used extensively in the United Kingdom. Here, though, it will receive a test it doesn’t usually face. Only places like Maui, the Big Island and Ireland present the same “high penetration” problems for grid managers. “HELCO, MECO and HECO are truly leaders, blazing trails” for this technology, says de Bedout.

Smart Grid uses communications to enhance the ability of a power grid to respond to fluctuations in electricity flow.

It isn’t that grids are not already pretty smart, says de Bedout. In the vast continental grids, widely separated generators using varying technologies “have to maintain a rotor speed that is perfectly synchronized.” Smart technology can do even better, and, in the case of an isolated grid like Maui’s, handle even wilder swings in outputs.

GE will be a contractor in the partnership among MECO, the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii and the U.S. Department of Energy to make unstable green sources more reliable. Most of the $7 million cost will come from the federal government.

MECO gets about 10 percent of its kilowatt hours from the Kaheawa Wind Farm, which can put out 30 megawatts on a good day – or, more likely, night, since that is when the wind blows hardest. The island demand for electricity peaks at around 200 megawatts, so Kaheawa could supply as much as 15 percent of peak demand, and double that at night, when use is down to around 100 MW.

However, an electrical grid cannot handle great fluctuations, at least with conventional controls. The situation is perhaps even more troublesome when Kaheawa is producing at low rates, because then the wind is likely to be fluky and the amount sent out varies beyond the capacity of the grid to manage. Or the wind output can drop to virtually zero in a brief moment.

Thus, MECO sometimes has to run a standby diesel generator to take over instantaneously if the wind fails, which means that the goal of cutting down on petroleum imports doesn’t get met.

GE claims its Smart Grid technology can control peak circuit demand, maintain adequate voltage and integrate intermittent (also called “unfirm”) energy resources. The project also contemplates work on storage systems (batteries or other forms of storage) to even out the flow of electrons.

In an interview in June, MECO President Ed Reinhardt said that the utility would consider using a system that gave even 15 to 30 minutes of backup power when the alternate source failed. That would give MECO enough time to ramp up one of its standby fossil fuel-powered generators.

De Bedout says: “While wind power has been around for some time, relying on a high percentage of wind for day-to-day power generation has been impossible.”

The reason the technology was used first in Britain is that there the regulations for reliability of the distribution system are more stringent than in the United States.

July 18, 2009 at 11:07 pm 1 comment

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