Environment

April is Tsunami Awareness Month in Hawaii

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) is encouraging the public to take tsunami preparedness into their own hands this April during Tsunami Awareness Month. Seventy years ago, on April 1, 1946, one of the deadliest tsunamis to ever hit Hawaii caused widespread devastation on all islands. Generated by an earthquake in the Aleutian Islands, the massive tsunami took 159 lives and caused more than $26 million in damage. April was chosen as the month to honor and remember the lives lost in all tsunamis to hit the state. Due to Hawaii’s location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we are extremely vulnerable to the threat of tsunamis. Distantly generated tsunamis can reach Hawaii within several hours and are triggered by earthquakes that take place along the Ring of Fire, which circles the Pacific Rim. Locally generated tsunamis are caused by earthquakes or volcanic activity that occur in or near the Hawaiian Islands, and can make landfall in a matter of minutes. [...]

Lawmakers commit to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045

Hawaii lawmakers voted 74-2 today to pass the nation’s first 100% renewable energy requirement. The measure, House Bill 623, makes Hawaii a global leader in renewable energy policy by requiring that 100% of the islands’ electricity must be generated from renewable energy resources—such as wind, solar, and geothermal—no later than 2045. “Hawaii lawmakers made history today—not only for the state, but for the planet,” said Jeff Mikulina, Executive Director of the Blue Planet Foundation. The measure, if enacted by Governor David Ige, would make Hawaii the first state in the nation with such a 100% renewable energy standard. Blue Planet Foundation, whose mission is to clear the path for 100% renewable energy, praised the move. “Passage of this measure is a historic step towards a fossil fuel free Hawaii,” said Mikulina. “This visionary policy is a promise to future generations that their lives will be powered not by climate-changing fossil fuel, but by clean, local, and sustainable sources of energy.” “We applaud the leadership of both the House and the Senate, and of the energy committee chairs, Rep. Chris Lee and Sen. Mike Gabbard, for helping make this historic policy a reality,” he added. [...]

How do volcanoes affect the weather and climate?

Topography indisputably influences the weather—that’s why precipitation is so much greater on the windward side of the island. But how much did Hawai‘i’s topography influence Iselle? Hurricane Iselle weakened to a tropical storm just as it reached the island, but still managed to make landfall. As it did, the bulk of the storm stalled on the east flank of Mauna Loa, but its weakened upper parts continued moving westward. [...]

Bike Commuting Celebrated on Thursday

This year’s “BikeUHM,” the annual appreciation and promotional event for those who cycle and who are thinking of cycling to UH Mānoa, coincides with the University’s Earth Day Festival on Thursday, April 24. “BikeUHM 2014: Earth Cycles” will be held along Legacy Path (near Dole Street) from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. To further enhance the cycling experience at UH Mānoa, the University has implemented Sharrow lanes (shared by both motorists and bicyclists) and free bike parking in any of the more than 150 racks positioned around campus. Coming soon is the installation of a secure, enclosed bike shelter in the Lower Campus Parking Structure and bike-share stations on campus, as recommended in a recent feasibility study for bike-sharing in Honolulu. [...]

Hawaii lab finds dramatic shift in Pacific ecosystem

The Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) has enabled scientists to determine that a long-term shift in nitrogen content in the Pacific Ocean has occurred as a result of climate change. Researchers observed overall nitrogen fixation in the North Pacific Ocean has increased by about 20 percent since the mid 1800s and this long-term change appears to be continuing today, according to a study published recently in the journal, Nature. Using chemical information locked in organic skeletal layers, the team used these ancient deep corals as detailed recorders of changes at the base of the open Pacific food web over the last 1,000 years. This represents the first detailed biogeochemical records for the planet’s largest contiguous ecosystem. This type of sample is only available using deep-diving submersibles, such as those operated by HURL. [...]

‘Voice of the Sea’ TV series debuts in January

A new television show highlighting ocean and coastal scientists and cultural experts from Hawaii and the Pacific will debut on January 5, 2014. “Voice of the Sea” will be broadcast on on KVFE (Channel 5 and 1005) on Sundays at 6:00 p.m. The show is hosted by Dr. Kanesa Duncan Seraphin, world paddleboard champion, shark researcher, and science education expert. Dr. Seraphin, director of the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Center of Excellence in Marine Science Education and associate professor at the Curriculum Research & Development Group in the College of Education at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, has traveled across the Pacific to bring stories of relevance to Hawaii. Each half-hour episode profiles local science and cultural celebrities and presents thought-provoking information in an exciting, original, reality-based way. [...]

Tiger shark tracking program underway

In response to an uptick in the number of shark attacks recorded on Maui, the State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is funding a study on the movements of tiger sharks caught and released around the Valley Isle. DLNR plans to use the results of the study to guide future decisions regarding management of shark populations in Hawaii. Lead scientists Drs. Carl Meyer and Kim Holland report that in late October, the shark research team caught and released the tiger sharks in waters off the south shore of Maui. Eight of these sharks were equipped with satellite transmitters to track their movements. [...]

World’s Oldest Known Wild Bird Hatches Another Chick

A Laysan albatross known as “Wisdom” – believed to be at least 62 years old – has hatched a chick on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) for the sixth consecutive year. Early morning on February 3, 2013, the still-wet chick was observed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Pete Leary, who said the chick appears healthy. Wisdom was first banded in 1956, when she was incubating an egg in the same area of the refuge. She was at least five years old at the time. “Everyone continues to be inspired by Wisdom as a symbol of hope for her species,” said Doug Staller, the Fish and Wildlife Service Superintendent for the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (Monument), which includes Midway Atoll NWR. [...]

Navy powers up city’s largest solar facility

An official “Flip the Switch” ceremony and Hawaiian blessing was held today to mark the completion of more than 4,300 solar panels installed at the Pearl City Solar Energy Facility. Capable of generating 1.23 megawatts of electricity, it is now the newest and largest utility-scale solar photovoltaic project on O’ahu. This project marks the fourth utility-scale solar facility that developer Forest City Hawaii has completed in Honolulu, making it one of the largest renewable-energy developers and owners in the state. At today’s ceremony, Jennifer Sabas, chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, praised the project’s vision, and Governor Neil Abercrombie commended the project for advancing the state’s clean energy goals. These sentiments were echoed by other event attendees, including Jerrod Schreck, president of Hoku Solar, and Connie Lau, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Industries, chairman of Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. and chairman of American Savings Bank. [...]

HECO streamlines solar power installation requirements

It will now be faster and simpler for many residential and some small commercial customers to receive approval for on-site solar photovoltaic installations without worrying about the need for a possible interconnection study, Hawaiian Electric announced today. As of October 1, most residential and some commercial customers of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light Company can install certified single-phase PV systems up to 10 kW on single-phase transformers and participate in Net Energy Metering (NEM) with no interconnection study. In addition, any customer of the three companies who paid for an interconnection study and system upgrades to install a 10 kW or smaller single-phase PV system will be refunded the cost of the study and any upgrades. [...]

Isle startup aims to help utilities reward energy savings

Ikehu Naturals LLC, a Hawaii-based startup, recently won an award in a contest sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The award was given for its Demand Response Incentive (DRIVE) system. The DRIVE technology gives power companies the ability to offer airline miles to their energy efficient customers. Ikehu said in a statement that it hopes the award generates interest by power companies around the world. “It’s an honor to be selected among the winners in such a prestigious competition” says Ikehu CEO and founder Holland Wood. “Soon, utilities will have the ability to use airline miles to guide consumers towards responsible energy use.” [...]

Waikiki Aquarium seeks kids’ YouTube videos

The Waikiki Aquarium has become a partner with Youth on Board, a collaborative project with Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in California and Nausicaa Aquarium in Boulogne, France. The program encourages young people to tell others about the ocean near where they live in a humorous, one-minute video. Videos will be uploaded to the respective aquarium’s YouTube channel for the world to see. All videos will be entered into a contest and one will be selected at each partner aquarium as the Youth on Board Video of the year. Applications are due on April 20, 2012, with videos being due on May 24, 2012. “Our oceans are all interconnected and so it’s critical that we not only learn how to care for our own marine life but also learn about the marine life in other parts of the world,” said Aquarium Director Dr. Andrew Rossiter. “The Youth on Board program encourages youth to be inspired to take care of the ocean by learning about the diversity of marine species that call the ocean home. Our hope is that through the video-making process and viewing portion of this contest, the young people of our community will develop a deeply-rooted appreciation for our delicate ocean ecosystem.” [...]

Offshore Fish Farm Receives Key Permit

Hawaii Oceanic Technology, Inc. has been issued permit HI-0028140 in accordance with the provisions of the Clean Water Act, Hawaii Revised Statutes, Chapter 342D; and Hawaii Administrative Rules as administered by the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH). In a letter dated March 30, 2012, the DOH stated that it has “reviewed the (company’s) application for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, and that after consideration of the expressed views of all interested persons and agencies, pertinent Federal and State statutes and rules regarding the discharge, the DOH hereby issues the NPDES permit effective April 30, 2012.” This comprehensive process took the company more than a year of effort and required a thorough public review and response to comments from the public and several NGOs. [...]

Foundation announces $450,000 in Innovation Fund awards

The Hawaii Community Foundation announced the second round of grant recipients from its Island Innovation Fund, which was created to serve as a catalyst for innovation within the nonprofit sector. From a group of eight finalists, a total of $480,591 was awarded to five recipients for projects that will: increase energy awareness through real-time energy monitoring web and mobile application tools; allow residents statewide to actively follow and monitor the Hawaii legislative process; distribute a replicable exercise and fall prevention program to Hawaii’s seniors; deploy a new access control mechanism to maintain public access to trails and pathways on Hawaii Island; and encourage schools to eliminate its waste to create green schools. For the first time, a “People’s Choice Award” was also selected by the more than 200 nonprofits that submitted proposals over the first and second grant rounds. [...]

Algae demonstration commissioned at West Oahu refinery

Kuehnle AgroSystems, a producer of specialized algae strains and bulk concentrated algae designed to meet the diverse needs of the animal nutrition, specialty chemical and biofuels markets, has announced the commissioning of an algae demonstration project at the Chevron Hawaii refinery. The demonstration project, funded by the Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture and the Office of Naval Research, produces algae using recycled CO2 waste streams and wastewater by-product from Chevron’s refinery to cultivate algae in specially designed closed growing systems. Chevron’s role in this project is to serve as a host site and a source of recycled CO2 and wastewater for KAS to conduct its research. [...]

OTEC International chosen for NELHA demonstration

OTEC International LLC (OTI) was selected to build a one-megawatt demonstration plant by the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) to test the full power cycle of ocean thermal energy conversion for electricity. Baltimore-based OTI has built its OTEC design on decades of innovation, combining proprietary technology with off-the-shelf components. Privately funded OTI has not relied on government money and expects to be first-to-market with a commercial plant. OTI is currently negotiating a power purchase agreement with Hawaiian Electric Company for a 100-megawatt (MW) plant and with Caribbean Utilities Company and others for 25 MW plants. [...]

Kakaako Street Festival Coming Oct. 22

Fusing all the things we love– food, shopping, music, art, cocktails and fun– Eat the Street (ETS) presents ‘Nonstop Kaka’ako’ street festival, an urban multi-interactive total pop-up retail, food and entertainment experience. Brought to you by StreetGrindz.com, in partnership with Kamehameha Schools and Nonstop Honolulu, the event is set for Saturday, October 22, from 4:00 – 10:00 p.m in Kaka’ako. “Attendees will be able to satisfy all their senses at this street festival,” said event organizer Poni Askew. “Plus, we are excited to have this event designed by TLC’s Trading Spaces very own host and designer Lauren Makk.” Food vendors nominated on the ‘Best of Nonstop Honolulu’s Best of’ list will be featured, along with many of ETS’ most ono food trucks and street food vendors. [...]

Kauai utility smart grid project approved

The state Public Utilities Commission last week approved Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s request to commit funds to participate in a national smart grid demonstration project, which will bring advanced meter technology to every household on Kauai. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s national demonstration project is designed to assist rural utilities like KIUC, implement technologies that make the electricity grid more efficient and reliable. The total cost of the project is approximately $11.9 million, half of which will be funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). In the application, filed late in October of 2010, KIUC requested commission approval to commit approximately $6 million in funds to participate in The Smart Grid Project which the utility explained was part of a demonstration project “involving 27 electric cooperatives throughout the nation,” but the project also represents a key component of KIUC’s own longterm strategic plan. [...]

Big Island geothermal feedback sought

Hawaii Electric Light Company is seeking information to determine the best way to pursue geothermal power development on Hawaii Island. In a request for information (RFI) issued today, the utility is seeking input from stakeholders including potential geothermal developers and interested landowners on next steps that take into account the renewable energy goals and clean energy policy of Hawaii within the state’s unique community, cultural, historical, and environmental context. “Geothermal power is already a proven source of firm renewable power that can play an even larger role in Hawaii’s clean energy future,” said Jay Ignacio, president of Hawaii Electric Light Company. [...]

Trans-Pacific Voyage Bound for Hawaii

Green power will take seven traditional vaka, or canoes, on an epic expedition of re-discovery across 15,000 nautical miles of the Pacific Ocean. Powered solely by the sun and the wind, the double-hulled, 22-meter vaka will leave their Pacific home countries over the next month and sail to Hawaii via French Polynesia in the wake of their ancestors. [...]