Hawaiian Electric pledges to cut emissions 70% by 2030

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Hawaiian Electric has set a goal to cut carbon emissions from power generation by 70% by 2030.

The reduction includes generation owned by Hawaiian Electric and independent power producers who sell electricity to the utility.

The utility has also committed to achieving net zero or net negative carbon emissions from power generation by 2045 or sooner, meaning that if there are any emissions, they will be captured or offset.

Cutting emissions from power generation by 70%, compared with 2005 levels, would provide a significant portion of the reduction the entire Hawaii economy needs to meet the US target of cutting carbon emissions by at least 50% economywide by 2030.

“Hawaiian Electric has a critical role in reducing carbon emissions this decade in Hawaii, especially in transportation, so this new goal is significant,” said Gov. David Ige, who is attending the COP26 climate conference.

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“The COP26 meetings made absolutely clear that even though Hawaii has done a lot, we have to do even more. Working together, Hawaii can do its part to hit these targets. We are not willing to wait for the rest of the planet to do what we know is in our community’s best interest.”

Led by the 70% emission reduction in the electricity sector, the rest of the state economy – including transportation, agriculture, construction and industry – would still have to cut emissions by at least 40% by 2030 to stay on the path to meet the U.S. target.

Hawaiian Electric’s forecast for the next nine years anticipates a steady increase in renewables, replacing fossil fuels currently in use.

Key elements of the 2030 plan include:

  • Shutting down the state’s last coal plant in 2022
  • Adding nearly 50,000 rooftop solar systems
  • Retiring at least 6 fossil-fueled generating units and significantly reducing the use of others as new renewable resources come online
  • Adding renewable energy projects capable of generating a total of at least 1GW, including shared solar (community-based renewable energy)
  • Using more grid-scale and customer-owned energy storage
  • Expanding geothermal resources
  • Creating innovative programmes that provide customers incentives for using clean, lower-cost energy at certain times of the day and using less fossil-fueled energy at night
  • By 2030, renewable resources will provide close to 100% of the electricity generated on Hawaii Island and in Maui County.

Achieving a 70% reduction in carbon emissions is challenging in Hawaii, which has fewer generation options than utilities that use nuclear, natural gas and large-scale hydropower, according to Hawaiian Electric.

Furthermore, importing power from neighbouring states is a challenge.

Ulalia Woodside, executive director of The Nature Conservancy, Hawaii and Palmyra chapter, said: “It is absolutely right that Hawaiian Electric is looking at alternative energy sources. These efforts should be contemplated with strong and robust community input and consent, informed by the best science, and done in a way that preserves native habitats and species.”