Hawaii Natural Energy Institute

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Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, established by the Hawaii State Legislature in 1974, after the world's first oil crises, to undertake and coordinate research and development of the island’s renewable energy resources and has broadened its expertise to encompass the development of technologies that will make it possible to tap resources like the ocean, food and minerals for energy.

According to the HNEI website:

"In the midst of the oil embargo, the 1974 Legislature quickly acted to create a structure within the state government which would oversee Hawaii's attempts to wean itself from imported oil. It consisted of three parts:

  • the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute of the University of Hawaii;
  • the State Program for Energy Planning and Conservation, eventually to become the Energy Resources and Technology Division of the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, to oversee planning and conservation; and
  • the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority to serve as a field laboratory for energy research and development.
HNEI <p>The measure establishing HNEI was signed into law by Governor George R. Ariyoshi on June 14, 1974, as Act 235. The goals set forth by the Legislature, looking from a perspective 25 years later, were far-sighted: The current energy crisis is caused by a global energy shortage which will worsen through the remainder of this decade and may continue to the end of this century. The state of Hawaii, with its total dependence for energy on imported fossil fuel, is particularly vulnerable to dislocations in the global energy market. This is an anomalous situation, as there are few places in the world so generously endowed with natural energy: geothermal, solar radiation, ocean temperature differential, wind, waves, currents—all potential non-polluting power sources. The purpose of this act is to establish the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute that will coordinate and undertake the development of non-polluting natural energy sources for Hawaii .... [The institute] will provide the needed visibility, focus, and encouragement for energy-related activities directed toward converting Hawaii's natural resources into viable energy systems. These alternative energy systems will:
  1. diminish Hawaii's total dependence on imported fossil fuels;
  2. meet the state's increasing energy demands with little or no environmental degradation; and
  3. contribute to the technology base for finding solutions to the national and global energy shortage." [1]
</blockquote> HNEI's areas of research include fuel cells, hydrogen, biocarbons (charcoal), biomass, ocean resources, battery and vehicle testing, Solar-Hydrogen, Photovoltaics and Imaging, and biotechnology. [2] Research at the HNEI has led to the discovery of a new process Flash Carbonization™ that quickly and efficiently produces biocarbon (i.e., charcoal) from biomass. [3]

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