Though it was the last state to join the Union, Hawaii is making a push to be the first state to use 100 percent renewable energy.
Earlier this summer, Gov. David Ige signed a bill into law that set Hawaii's renewable energy goal at 100 percent by 2045. On August 24 he chose not to replace the state's petroleum-fueled electricity plants with natural gas, instead committing to use renewable sources.
As an archipelago, Hawaii has unique energy challenges. While the continental U.S. can share energy resources, Hawaii can only use what it can generate for itself. Many of its power plants were built before it was realistic to ship natural gas in its liquid form and the petroleum they were forced to use instead ended up costing an extra $5 billion during the last decade of surging oil prices, according to The Nation magazine. The immense need that comes with their geographic isolation is a major driver toward renewable energy in Hawaii, which has the highest solar capacity per capita in the U.S.
Speaking at the Asia Pacific Resilience Innovation Summit on August 24, Ige announced that his administration would not use liquefied natural gas (LNG) for power, despite its being easy to transport. According to Ige, the state is shying away from LNG for both environmental and economic reasons. While less damaging than petroleum, "it is a fossil fuel," he said at the Summit, stressing that it still releases harmful greenhouse gasses. In addition, he said using LNG will not save the state money over time given the falling cost of solar panels and wind turbines.
In addition to setting 2045 as the state's target to run completely on renewable energy sources, the bill Ige signed in June directs the University of Hawaii to be net carbon zero no later than 2035.
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