Sustainability Guide 2011 / Sustainable Lighting
By now, compact-fluorescent bulbs, LED lighting and other energy-efficient bulbs have become the norm. But there are always new technologies allowing us to save even more energy and to wean ourselves of fossil fuels. Aside from lighting fixtures, related amenities to maximize lighting efficiency include motion sensors and light-reflecting floors. Retrofitting older light fixtures allows older homes and businesses may be able to be more efficient without completely rebuilding.
For a more DIY way to use solar lighting with plastic water bottles, fill two-liter plastic bottles with clean water, two capfuls of bleach, and use a film dispenser to protect the top. Hang the bottles from holes in your garage or work shed roof. The bottles act as 50-watt incandescent bulbs when the sun is out. This method was created by an engineer in a lower-income Brazilian village in the early 2000s.
•Photovoltaic solar electricity: Photovoltaic panels are not new, but the more widespread use of them is transforming our energy culture. To encourage use of solar power, many states are considering or have considered tax credits for households and businesses that use photovoltaic panels. There are also tax credits available on the federal level.
•Sun-Dome Tubular Skylight: This type of light is a more professional version of the DIY water bottle lights. The dome shape of the glass bulb channels sunlight into the bulb through mirrored tubing, emitting light that imitates a light bulb, but with no electricity required. These lights are available both commercially and residentially, and are strong enough to endure harsh weather conditions.
•Solar-powered bulbs: While this technology isn’t brand new, light bulbs charged by the sun are things that developing countries and other low-income areas can look to for power solutions. The brand SolarBulb is not yet on the market, but the technology it uses is similar to some DIY solar lighting arrangements. Insert SolarBulb into a depleted plastic water bottle for up to six hours of light. The bulb recharges in less than half a day under the sun. —M.S.
Supply & Demand
The Interisland Wind Project, which plans to bring 400 megawatts of wind power from Molokai and Lanai to Oahu, can reliably supply more than 25 percent of Oahu’s projected electricity demand, according to a recent study by the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, General Electric Company and the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO).
The study found that 500 megawatts of wind and 100 megawatts of solar power could eliminate the need to burn about 2.8 million barrels of low-sulfur fuel oil and 132,000 tons of coal annually. But assuring the system’s reliability will require further studies, upgrades to the infrastructure and specific requirements on the wind farms to be connected to the Oahu system. “The findings of this study show it is feasible to integrate large-scale wind and solar projects on Oahu…while maintaining reliability for customers,” said Dr. Rick Rocheleau, HNEI director.
GE has been working closely with HNEI and HECO to assess innovative solutions to help Oahu meet its electricity demand with very high levels of renewable resources, according to General Manager Hamid Elahi of GE Energy Consulting. “GE is proud to be working closely with HECO and other forward-thinking utilities that are leading the industry in solving some of the most important challenges that face our grids.”
To reach HECO’s renewable energy goals, all available resources are needed, according to HECO Executive Vice President Robbie Alm. “We know that more solar power is possible on Oahu than was studied. However, this baseline study is an essential first step. It shows that the technology may present challenges but these can be overcome.” —Lucy Jokiel
Hawaii Energy, the state’s energy conservation and efficiency program, is escalating its efforts to encourage businesses to install energy-efficient lighting by increasing existing rebates.
Prescriptive rebates will be increased by 20 percent, with some incentives doubling depending on the type of technology. All customized rebates, including lighting, will be doubled for a limited-time through the “Lighten Up for Savings” program.
Hawaii Energy believes this will help to reduce Hawaii’s dependence on imported oil. Lighting is one of the most cost-effective ways to lessen energy usage with the fastest payback.
“We’re really hoping to reach out to all businesses, whether it’s a large office or a small business, and help owners make the switch to more efficient lighting,” says Ray Starling, Hawaii Energy’s program manager. “Not only will this cut electricity bills for businesses, but it will also cut the amount of foreign oil that our state burns for energy.” —L.J.
Blue Planet Foundation
The Blue Planet Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed in 2007, aims to make Hawaii a role model for clean energy solutions. Its mission is to change our world’s energy culture, raise global awareness in order to develop and adopt practical programs, implement clean, efficient, and renewable energy and create a global response to our increasingly urgent climate crisis.
Blue Planet Foundation was the vision of Henk Rogers, a well-known software entrepreneur who popularized the computer game Tetris. He saw an opportunity to push transformative change through a clean energy-focused foundation in Hawaii.
“Our mission is to end the use of carbon-based fuel on Earth,” says Rogers. “Our economic and environmental sustainability demand that we use only renewable sources of power.”
“Ending our fossil fuel addiction is the absolute priority for our state and the globe,” says Executive Director Jeff Mikulina. “We want to empower residents, businesses and community groups with smart tools to take effective action.” He points out that, “Everyone has a role to play in this exciting transformation…the Blue Planet Foundation will lead the transformation toward Hawaii’s clean energy economy.” —L.J.
Benefits of a Solar Hot Water System
Up to 40 percent of the average monthly utility bill is due to the owner’s electric hot water heater, which demands almost twice the amount of energy per month required to run a room air conditioning unit and more than five times the amount of electricity to power a clothes dryer. By making your home more energy efficient, you can save $1,000 from HECO and are eligible for state and federal tax credits totaling nearly $3,000. —L.J.