Monday, May 30, 2011

I'm From The Government And I'm Here To Help You....

This is a great thing, something I figr'd would never happen. It is obvious that Maui is the most perfect microcosmic test environment in the US for biofuels, but I doubted anyone would ever take advantage of that fact.

1. There are tens of thousands of acres of sugar being grown here on an ongoing basis, 100% of which is grown at a financial loss. MC&S grows sugar at a loss in order to retain its water rights so that they can develop their massive land holdings "someday", but of course now is not the time, since the housing market is so bad.

2. Two of the biggest problems with biofuels do not exist here: (1) There is no such thing as cold weather (2) On an island with a circumference of 160 miles, there is no such thing as delays getting refined biofuels from factory to consumer. One tanker truck could conceivably deliver to every gas station on the island in one 24-hr day.

3. There is already a wildly successful biofuels program in place here, a private venture owned by singer Willie Nelson and local businessmen Bob & Kelly King. About 10 years ago, they built a plant to refine cooking grease into biodiesel. Today they operate at a profit, sell biodiesel for about $1 a gallon less than petroleum diesel, and they refine every single drop of cooking grease produced on the island. Not one drop goes into the (limited) landfills here.

Since the island imports all of its energy except for the 15%-20% of its electricity generated by the massive Kaheawa Wind Farm, Maui has some of the highest energy costs in the US. Yet Maui has almost unlimited wind, unlimited sun, great soil for growing things, and a huge and robust growing infrastructure. There is no reason why the island can't be completely energy-independent within 4 or 5 years.

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