Hawaii's 100% Renewable Portfolio Standard: A Theoretical Exploration of the Art of the Possible

Authors: Barry Solomon*, Michigan Technological University
Topics: Energy, Environment, Economic Geography
Keywords: energy, climate change, renewable energy, Hawaii
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Galerie 5, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


While there is substantial interest among geographers in sustainable energy transitions, the role of space and geography in the transition has been scarcely examined. In the United States, 29 states, Washington, D.C. and three territories have adopted a mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) for their electric power systems, while eight states and one territory have set renewable energy goals. Thus far RPSs have met with varying success across the country, with targets and timetables that vary widely from state to state. Hawaii’s RPS is the most ambitious, with a 100% target set for 2045 (though Vermont has a 75% target set for 2032). This paper will provide a case study of the Hawaii RPS, and will ask six questions: 1) Why was a 100% RPS adopted in the State of Hawaii? 2) Is a 100% RPS achievable on all of the main Hawaiian Islands? 3) How can an RPS be successfully enforced? 4) Is the 100% RPS likely to be met? 5) What is the role of electricity storage? 6) Can the Hawaii case be replicated on the mainland and in other countries? Given that the ultimate RPS target date for Hawaii is 2045 (there are interim targets), the paper will take a largely theoretical perspective, focusing on geographical issues and perspectives that may tease out the course of the States’ electricity future, e.g. sensitivity to climate change, population distribution, culture, inter-island rivalries, policy regimes, and institutional issues.

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