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Aloha to Geothermal Energy

December 12, 2010

On GoHawaii’s website1, Hawaii’s Big Island is described as allowing adventurers or romantics to discover an assortment of unparalleled natural wonders. The Big Island, the biggest and youngest of the five Hawaiian islands making up this U.S. State, is home to one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea; the tallest sea mountain in the world, Maunakea; the largest mountain in the world, Maunaloa, and the biggest park in the state, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Soon, the Big Island of Hawaii may also be able to pride itself as being a supplier of its own electricity using geothermal energy.

Pele’s energy
Local communities which are built on and around the volcano Kilauea have always respected the power and revered the goddess of the volcano, Pele. The realities of enormous utility costs and draining fossil fuel resources are forcing Hawaiians to consider using the power of Pele to sustain the future island’s economy and its residents.

Using geothermal energy to produce energy from the heat of Pele is a mixed topic amongst the Hawaii people. The belief is that as long as the volcano is active and producing heat, the energy should not be used or controlled in any way or form. In the traditional Hawaiian way of thinking, geothermal energy is not encouraged.

Varying perspectives
Other Native Hawaiians, who are very respectful of the environment as well as the need for alternative energy resources, offer different perspectives on the use of geothermal energy on the Big Island. On the one hand, using geothermal energy to benefit from the power of Pele can be considered sacrilege; on the other hand, this natural heat and energy source can be taken as a gift from the goddess Pele to help surmount hardship.

Astronomical energy costs
Many Hawaiians cannot make ends meet due to the astronomical costs related to coal, oil and gasoline on the islands. Currently, a 30-megawatt power plant which has been operating a closed geothermal system for nearly 17 years, employs 30 full-time employees, contributes 3 million$ to the local economy and provides approximately 20 percent of the Big Island’s electrical needs. The geothermal company also pays royalties to the State of Hawaii since the underground steam is deemed to be a state-owned resource.

Earlier in the year, the Hawaii Geothermal Working Group was formed to verify the feasibility of geothermal energy becoming the principal energy source that would supply the base-load demand for electricity on the Big Island.

This group’s report, which is expected in early 2011, will be used to promote the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. The goal of this Initiative is to have renewable energy resources make up 70 percent of the state’s consumption by 2030.

According to many, several of the most obvious obstacles to converting to geothermal energy are the lack of investors and money to explore new wells and to construct new facilities.

With the potential to give Hawaiians affordable and sustainable energy resources by tapping into the Big Island’s enormous source of renewable energy, it seems that many Islanders may soon welcome the use of geothermal energy as they welcome visitors to their beautiful island paradise.

PVC Plus Drilling, a leading supplier of PVC pipe and fittings, PVC Plus Drilling products also provides geothermal pipe and coils, geothermal grouts and fittings. Contact PVC for your horizontal directional drilling and all geothermal accessories.


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