Hawaii to Feature Car Chargers and an Ocean Thermal Energy Plant

December 10, 2008

The State of Hawaii has followed the California Bay Area's lead in committing to building an infrastructure for recharging electric car recharging. Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle announced on December 2 that the state has signed an agreement with Better Place to collaborate on both the infrastructure and the renewable energy sources needed to power a statewide network of public charging spots and battery swapping stations. Better Place plans to begin applying for permits for the network within the next year, followed six months later by the introduction of its first electric vehicles, leading to the mass-market availability of electric cars in Hawaii by 2012. Better Place bills itself as the "world's leading sustainable mobility operator," and December 8 marked its first chance to prove itself, as the company demonstrated the use of its first installed charging station, located in Tel Aviv, Israel. The company also plans to install its own operating system in the electric cars to help drivers get the most from their vehicles. See the press releases from Governor Lingle and Better Place.

Governor Lingle also announced in late November that Lockheed Martin Corporation is teaming up with the Taiwan Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) to develop a 10-megawatt Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) pilot plant in Hawaii. OTEC technology uses the temperature difference between the ocean's warm surface and its chilly depths to generate electricity. Lockheed and Hawaii have been involved in OTEC since its inception, as partners in the first OTEC demonstration, a barge-mounted facility that generated 15 kilowatts of net electricity off the coast of Hawaii back in 1979. DOE was also involved in developing OTEC technology, and by 1993, DOE and the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii had teamed up to build an on-shore OTEC plant that generated up to 50 kilowatts of net electricity. With its current revival, OTEC could be a key technology for the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, a DOE partnership with the goal of drawing of renewable energy for 70% of the state's energy needs by 2030. See the governor's press release, the archived OTEC Web site from DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative Web page from DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.