White Paper   |   Apr 10th, 2015 Renewable Energy in the Islands: A New Sense of Urgency

The Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change are developing steps needed to keep the human-induced average global increase in temperature to less than 2°C (UNFCC 2015). The scientific studies compiled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2014) indicate that the primary method of achieving this objective is to convert global energy use from primarily carbon-emitting sources to non-carbon emitting sources. IPCC has found that global non-carbon energy use needs to be increased to over 50 percent of all sources by 2050 and 90 percent of all sources by 2100 if this goal is to be achieved.

The state of Hawaii and other developed islands in the Pacific are going to face major challenges in implementing renewable energy programs that would constitute such a large portion of their energy use. According to the US Energy Information Administration (USEIA, 2015), Hawaii ranks 6th among all states in the country in expenditure on energy per capita and pays the highest electricity prices in the nation, even though it is the most temperate state in the union (average high and low temperatures only vary by 9 degrees over 12 months) and has the nation’s fourth lowest per capita energy use.