Published on October 8th, 2012 | by Jake Richardson3
Hawaiian Island to Run on Solar Power
If billionaire Larry Ellison has his way, the Hawaiian island of Lanai will run on solar power and have electric cars. Sound too good to be true? Maybe it is, but as the saying goes, a boy can dream.
Called the ‘pineapple island’ due to the abundance of that fruit and its cultivation there, Lanai has about 3,200 residents. Ellison bought about 98% of it, which is over 88,000 acres of land, including two golf courses and a small solar farm. La Ola Solar began operating in 2009 with a design capacity of 1.2 MW, but due to varying cloud cover has been producing about 600 kW.
An NREL report titled Integrating High Levels of Renewables into the Lanai Electric Grid concluded: “Lanai has good solar and wind resources, but in order to reach 100% renewable energy, either energy storage must be used or potentially an interconnection to other islands to share resources. The energy storage could be in the form of bio-diesel fuel, batteries, or even pumped hydropower. The terrain of Lanai would lend itself to a pumped hydro storage option.”
Ellison said recently his vision for Lanai is sustainable enterprise with all electricity from the island’s utility to come from solar photovoltaic and solar thermal. He also wants organic agriculture practiced there to grow produce that can be shipped off island. The fact that he is one of the richest men in the world makes these plans possible, but it isn’t clear if the organic agriculture will be completely self-sustaining due to high costs.
Even with these good intentions, which might come to fruition in a beneficial way, it still seems unseemly for a single man to own the vast majority of an inhabited island. One wonders how it was legal to sell it in the first place.