Recognizing the importance of increased use of renewable biomass energy resources in Hawaii, the 2007 Legislature passed HB 1003 HD3 SD2 CD1, signed into law as Act 253, SLH 2007. Part III of the Act called for the preparation of a bioenergy master plan (Plan) by DBEDT to “set the course for the coordination and implementation of policies and procedures to develop a bioenergy industry in Hawaii.” DBEDT entered into a contract with HNEI to prepare the Plan in accordance with Act 253 Part III.
Act 253 followed the convening of two statewide bioenergy events in 2006, the Governor’s Biofuels Summit and the Ag Bioenergy Workshop. These meetings were held in acknowledgment of the benefits, the complexity, and the challenges of Hawaii-based bioenergy industry development. Meeting participants represented all sectors of the bioenergy industry value chain – biomass production, conversion, distribution and storage, and end use – that are necessary elements of successful industry development.
The increased use of the state’s biomass resources for the production of fuels for transportation and electricity can diversify Hawaii’s energy supplies and increase energy and economic security and sustainability. Moreover, unlike wind, solar, geothermal, or ocean energy, biofuels can be used in place of liquid fossil fuels with relatively little technology modification by transportation and power generation end users.
However, unlike other renewable resources that are generally available at low cost once production facilities are installed, bioenergy production requires significant capital investment and on-going costs to produce, collect, store, transport, and convert the biomass resource. As participants in the 2006 meetings made clear, the development of a bioenergy industry in Hawaii poses significant challenges including limited land and water resources, adequacy of labor, lack of specialized production and distribution infrastructure, potential environmental impacts, and financial risk.