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Hawaii, the Greenhouse Gas Getaway

Hawaii, that favored vacation land that has to import nearly all of its power and energy needs, is about to get a $30 million infusion for its prized clean energy project, Energy Excelerator, thanks to the US Navy.

The US Navy has announced it will invest $30 million in Energy Excelerator, which represents a tripling of the Hawaii-based program’s funding over the past three years.

The goal with the capital infusion? To help fund companies willing to use Hawaii to commercialize their technologies.

This is part of the US military’s plan to green up the power at its military bases and reduce Navy and Marine dependence on fossil fuels.  

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"In the modern era, technological breakthroughs offer unprecedented opportunities to move toward diversified energy sources," media quoted Richard Carlin, director of ONR's Sea Warfare and Weapons Department, as saying. "It's vital for our sailors and marines, and the nation, to discover and develop new sustainable sources of energy - as well as dramatically improve the way we manage energy."

According to the Energy Excelerator, Hawaii is a great market for renewable energy with its abundance of sunshine, wind and potential for wave power. Despite this potential, the state has the highest electricity prices in the US—nearly four times the average price elsewhere.

The program provides seed funding of $30,000 to $100,000 to companies working on projects related to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, energy storage breakthroughs and clean transportation.

But fewer than 5% of the hundreds of companies that apply for grants actually receive them. The biggest winners so far have been those embarking down the path of more efficient solar technology, wackier algae-based biofuels, energy efficiency projects to do with lighting, smart grid technology innovations and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

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In return, early-stage companies would fork over 1% in equity to the program. Later comers, however, won’t be bound by these rules.

So far 17 companies in its portfolio have raised more than $40 million in follow-up funding since 2010 and generated $18 million in revenue.

In terms of solar potential, Hawaii is second only to California—over the long term. Already, Hawaii generates 14% of its energy from renewables. That’s impressive compared to last year when it had to import 94% of its energy. The state's goal is to use 40% clean energy by 2030. Slow, but getting there.

By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com




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