The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Navy are hoping to jumpstart the growth of crops and algae in Hawai’i that can be used for military fuel as part of an aggressive drive by the Pentagon to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and increase renewable energy sources.
An industry forum Tuesday and Wednesday at Marine Corps Base Hawaii will bring together government officials and potential biofuel companies from Hawai’i and the Mainland. As many as 40 companies and 250 people are expected to attend.
The Navy and the Agriculture Department want to evaluate the use of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to set up biofuel projects in Hawai’i "as soon as possible."
How much funding remains unclear, but Hawai’i was selected for the initial collaboration between the two federal entities "because Hawai’i’s energy costs are among the highest in the nation and imported oil supplies 90 percent of the state’s energy," the USDA said. "A viable agricultural sector in Hawai’i can enhance Hawai’i’s energy security, and energy projects like those anticipated by the Navy’s needs can help rural economies."
Hawaiian Electric said today it is looking for a long-term supply of biofuels made from feedstocks produced and processed in Hawaii.
HECO Executive Vice President Robbie Alm said that the formal quest for proposals is the next stage in the company’s commitment to create a clear market for locally grown biofuels.
He says this first call for proposals will test the market and determine what HECO’s next actions must be.
The company is looking for biofuel supplies it can use at generation sites on Oahu, Maui, Molokai and the Big Island.
Proposals may use land- or water-based crops, waste animal fat or yellow grease feedstocks that may be converted to liquid biofuel.
Respondents are being encouraged to think broadly about the larger benefits of their approaches.
HECO says letters of intent are due by May 7, 2010 and that the final acceptance date for submitted proposals is June 18, 2010.