Hawaiian Electric Co. has selected Pacific Biodiesel Inc. to supply locally produced biodiesel for an emergency power generation system at Honolulu International Airport.
Maui-based Pacific Biodiesel will provide HECO with at least 250,000 gallons of made from locally recycled cooking oil under the three-year contract, the companies said. The biodiesel will be burned in an 8-megawatt generating station scheduled to be completed in October 2010.
The four generating units at the facility will feed electricity into the HECO grid during normal operations, but will be isolated to power the airport exclusively during an emergency, HECO said.
Hawaiian Electric Co. engineers knew they were venturing into the unknown when company executives tasked them with finding out whether one of the utility’s 40-year-old petroleum-fired steam generating units could run on crude palm oil.
For years the tropical vegetable oil has been used primarily as an ingredient in a variety of consumer goods like snack foods, soaps and cosmetics. It’s what makes the center of an Oreo cookie creamy and a Cheez-It cracker crispy.
As a fuel source, palm oil didn’t receive any serious consideration until a few years ago when Malaysia began refining it into a biofuel, which the country’s oil companies blend with petroleum-based diesel for use in automobiles.
But generating electricity using crude palm oil? “As far as we knew, no one had ever fired a steam turbine using 100 percent crude vegetable oil,” said Ron Cox, HECO’s vice president for generation and fuels.
HECO launched the project last year at the Kahe Power Plant as part of an experiment to see how various alternative fuels will work in its group of oil-fired boilers. HECO has pledged to have alternative energy make up 40 percent of its electricity production by 2030.
A website is being launched for a new program that allows Hawaii residents and businesses to apply to sell their renewable energy to the electric utility.
Hawaiian Electric Co. said today the website will accept applications of those who want to participate in the program, known as a feed-in tariff, which offers pre-established rates and standardized contract terms to independent energy providers.
Hawaiian Electric Executive Vice President Robbie Alm says the program will help the state break its dependence on imported oil through both large and small renewable energy sources.
The website will start accepting applications for Oahu projects at noon Wednesday. Applications for projects on the Big Island and Maui will be accepted beginning Nov. 24.
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.