Hawai‘i Biofuel / Bioenergy Notes
These rough notes are maintained by
- State DBEBT:
Biomass is a good starting point
- UH Manoa
Energy Policy Forum
- The Hawaii Clean Energy
- A project of US DOE and State of Hawaii (DBEDT), launched Jan. 2008,
"clean energy" may not necessarily mean biofuels (although it is likely
to include them)
- As of March 2008, it's not clear if HCEI will do anything besides gather
reports. In bureaucratic jargon, they are "seeking stakeholder input for
an integrated strategic energy analysis, planning, and implementation function."
- The State, for it's part, does have a goal: "70% of energy needs supplied
by renewable resources by the year 2030 - reducing overall consumption of
crude oil by up to 72%"
- Most people are talking about sugar, ethanol, wood or other biomass, oil
palms, or jatropha.
- CTAHR says: "The oil palm has double the oil yield of jatropha, but
because the trees are so large, and expensive and laborious to harvest,
jatropha is a better investment, because it has the potential to produce
at least two crops a year, equaling out to the same production per unit
as the oil palm."
- Kohala Center sponsored two energy studies for Hawaii, which mention biofuels
- Big Island Fuel Crops Project
-> Hawaii Biodiesel Consortium -> Hawaii Biocrude
- Originally a project of: South Point Propagation, was founded in 2004
and is a sole proprietorship owned by Ted Seaman ((808) 929-7181 Naalehu),
setting up on a leased parcel of land in Pahala, Ka'u.
- Site describes the desire to research, primarily Jatropha, but also
"will be looking at several different crops that have been identified as
excellent biofuel sources and others that have yet to be examined closely."
- Related: The Hawaii Biodiesel Consortium (2006-2007) included Aloha
Green, Kam. Schools, HARC (Mike Poteet), ... had a plan put together Sept.
2006. Contact: Bob Numbers (P.O. Box 26 Papa'aloa, 895-3041)
- As of Mar. 3 2008, Ted and Bob say that the Project (and the Consortium)
is about to grow into something much bigger, called Hawaii Biocrude,
perhaps announced publicly by May 2008 - "stay tuned".
- There is not yet any connection between them and HCEOC, they are pursuing
different jatropha strategies.
- 2009-01-13: New venture
Alternatives Hawaii announced its intention to plant oil-bearing trees
on 80,000 acres statewide, including 20,000 to 30,000 acres on the Big Island.
Bob Numbers is involved. Is this the same entity as "Hawaii Biocrude"?
- HCEOC (Hawaii EOC)
- As of October 2007, this organization "has been working with Jatropha
for past 18 months on a 20-acre, state-owned farm in Hilo." - $677k federal
grants and $240k state grants in 2007-2008?
- "We have committed to producing 2,400,000 seedlings in three years'
time... Biogenetic engineer has been hired to help with the Hilo operation.
- Aloha Green LLC plans to buy the seedlings to produce biodiesel
(growing them around Onomea?)
- Director George Yokoyama says: Jatropha project is headed by Bob Burkey
- Bob Burkey was with the Hawaii Biotech Tissue
Culture Center: (966-9074, 16-204 Melekahiwa Place, Keaau, 96749)
- Their website talked mostly about orchids - no mention of the jatropha
work there. (Besides orchids, they mention vireya, tea, bamboo,
- Bob Burkey's own local farm was called Kamuela Greenhouse/Specialty
Orchids (address on White Road, south)
- November 19, 2008:
Nonprofit tackles renewable energy | Island EOC to start up projects, train
- U.S. Department of Human Services has given the HCEOC a $686,000
- "Will soon begin hiring 38 full-time low-income employees to work
in the island's emerging renewable energy field."
- Hawaii Community College will offer renewable energy courses starting
spring 2009, Yokoyama said. Successful students will then work building
solar thermal/biomass hybrid generators, he said. "Anything that will
- 2008.01.23: A bill in the State House of Representatives,
to grant HCEOC $500k or so for: "renewable energy project ..establish an
assembly plant to fabricate components to build rechargeable, battery-powered
automobiles, or vehicles operated without an internal combustion engine,
gasoline tank, or radiator that will run silently at a speed of sixty miles
per hour, and will require a battery replacement only once every one hundred
and twenty miles. The project shall also assemble three-kilowatt-hour electric
power storage batteries that will incorporate the rechargeable battery and
solar thermal energy that will simultaneously provide power and hot water
for household use."
- What did HCEOC actually do?
- Value Added Foods and Fuels
- In 2008, engineer Stephen Finch, in Laupahoehoe, has an ongoing project (Ethanol
or Biofuels) "to develop an environmentally friendly Ethanol facility."
- Ken Stokes reports: "His
pilot scale ethanol/butanol extraction plant is small, yet it can run with
sugar cane, sweet sorghum, food-grade sorghum, switchgrass, and other types
of carbohydrates. Finch’s pilot plant is a high tech method of membrane
technology, and does not require the use of distillation or dryers. So,
he can run it “off grid” due to the reduction in energy requirements. This
means you can produce your fuel quicker and at a much lower cost. Finch
can also separate the ethanol or butanol with oil and sulphur. Oh, and,
Finch knows fuels, having been involved with ethanol, DME and butanol for
17 years and having degrees in Food Process Technology."
- Stephen P. Finch: Office: 962-6213 Mobile: 854-5908,
Mamalahoa Hwy. Laupahoehoe
- March 2008:
"Finch said construction is almost complete on a pilot-scale ethanol plant,
which will produce approximately 100 gallons of ethanol every 1.5 days"
- As of January 2011, no updates.
- Hamakua Biomass Energy
- Announced on Feb. 29 2008, formed by Kent Smith, Hilton Unemori and
Guy Gilliland (CEO), who were co-developers of wind farms on Maui and Kauai.
No website yet.
- "A 30 MW biomass combustion power plant, which means it'll burn wood
to create energy. [...] has asked the state for more than 60 acres near Ookala"
- The 13,000 acres of mature trees came up for lease at the end of 2007,
and Smith and Unemori were the winning bidders. The land is owned by Kamehameha
Schools. They expect to be in operation by the third quarter of 2010.
- "Leaves are left behind to help restore the soil."
- No website, and no news since late 2008. Perhaps the project
is on hold.
- SunFuels Hawaii
- Seeks an approval in principle for the lease of up to 37,263.87
acres of land for 50 years. Eucalyptus trees and grasses would be the source
of fuel, through a patented and complex "Carbo-V" process, heated to more
than 1400 degrees C and turned into a gas before being processed further
- Formed by a guy called Michael Saalfeld, of
Choren Industries (Europe)
who lives in Waimea.
- 2009-01-13: Says "we will not be pursuing any state lands" and "going
back to the drawing board"
- Hu Honua Bioenergy
- "A 24-megawatt power station that converts locally grown sustainable
biomass into electricity. The former coal-burning power plant at Pepe'ekeo
is being retrofitted with modern “green” technology to produce electricity
from locally grown crops and surplus green waste that would otherwise go
unused or into landfills."
- Was co-owned by Ethanol Research Hawaii (Oahu) and MMA Renewable Ventures
(San Francisco), president is Richard McQuain
- The name means "to come out of the earth"
- Gary Fa'agau, president of the Orchards of Pepeekeo Owners Association
and an energy consultant, points out that the old power plant, that Hu Honua
is planning to use, is only 20% efficient, while "there is newer biomass
technology available that is 70% efficient." He wrote to
provide references: "By utilizing the emerging technologies of
gasification combined cycle, this efficiency can be increased to levels
70% and above". To get that kind of efficiency, Hu Honua
would have to install a new gasifier power plant.
Presumably they lack the capital to do that.
- Very little news in 2009. As of 2010, a few articles have appeared about some forward motion.
The most optimistic estimate has it operational in mid-2012.
- Big Island Biodiesel, a subsidiary of Maui-based
- Facility is planned for Kea'au. According to February 2010
Biofuel expanding to the Big Island, "a little more than a year from
now [..] they hope to have the $10 million plant producing up to 8,000
gallons of biofuel a day."
- 2010-02-11 -
Video: New biodiesel plant coming to Keaau
- Plan is to use used grease and vegetable oil, and then shift to
biofuel crops, maybe sunflowers or jatropha, unknown. May come from
Drive toward energy independence
- "Within a year's time, Big Island truckers will be able to run
their diesel engines with a sustainable, locally produced fuel made
from used cooking oil."
- 2010-11-23: "..start work on 2.6Mgy biodiesel plant
following a ceremonial groundbreaking at the Kea`au site. According to
Biofuels Digest the new plant
will use zero waste procesing technology with a multiple feedstock. The
plant will be able to process used cooking oil, jatropha oil, sunflower
oil, oils from algae and fish oil and animal fats into biodiesel."
VIDEO: Big Island Biodiesel breaks ground
- HIPPO - Hawaii Pure Plant
- Father-and-son partners Christian and James Twigg-Smith are planting jatropha on 250 acres,
plan to go to 1000 acres.
Pacific Biodiesel intends to process their oil.
- Planted 2008. Summer 2009 they did a small test harvest. As of March
2010, seeking $1.3 million in financing to buy equipment for mechanical
harvesting and processing.
- 2010-03-08 -
Small biofuel farm bears fruit
- Aina Koa Pono, Ka'u
- The Eucalyptus
- As reported in the 'Hamakua News' newsletter in January 2011:
- Bishop estate has about 358,000 acres of land in Hawaii
- More than 80% of that land is on the big island
- Roughly 13,700 acres of that is planted in Eucalyptus
- While Bishop owns the land, it's leased to an investment firm
that owns the trees. The least has another 10 years on it.
- At present they figure there is about 6,000,000,000 pounds of
tree mass (3 million tons)
- They are doing a sample cutting and shipping more than 3000 tons
of it to AES company in Oahu that has a biomass burner (for making
- AES makes about 20% of the power on Oahu.
- If it goes well, they will take about 50,000 tons a year, which
is only 1/7th of what they think they could harvest every year.
- The harvest method is to leave the stump & allow the dominant
sucker to replace the tree in a twelve year cycle.
- The leaseholder would love to find other markets for the trees,
but in this economy, there simply are none.
- The $61 million BlueEarth Maui Biodiesel LLC refinery on Maui
- Set to open in 2009. In a partnership with HECO, it would generate 40
million gallons of biodiesel from imported vegetable oils in its first year
for Maui Electric Co.
- Company's page in 2008: BlueEarth
Maui Biodiesel Project
- The controversy seems to be about the source of raw materials, not about
building the refinery. Local environmentalists fear rainforest destruction
for palm oil plantations. The company has said they will adopt strict
guidelines on the source countries, and plan to ultimately source their
- As of 2010, the website is gone. Perhaps the company as well?
- July 2010: Apparently it ran into a legal issue - ref
BLUEEARTH BIOFUELS LLC v. HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC COMPANY INC MAUI ELECTRIC
COMPANY LTD ALOHA PETROLEUM LTD at the Supreme Court of Hawaii
- The island's power coop, KIUC, is aggressively
moving to include biofuels in its power mix.
- Green Energy Hawaii /
EcoPower Hawaii (kauaifarmfuel.com) /
- Eric Knutzen's Green Energy Hawaii will generate 6.4 megawatts (10%
of Kauai's power needs) by gasification/thermal oxidation of wood chips
from Bill Cowern's Hawaiian Mahogany
- 2006.05.27 -
Seeing energy in the trees
- The controversy seems to be about them growing Albizia, an aggressive
'weed' tree. But the company says that by creating a demand for wood,
they could actually contribute to reducing weed trees around the
island: "Because Albizia is viewed as a pest, Cowern said Hawaiian Mahogany
will also harvest trees from other people’s lands for a small fee, and send
it on to Green Energy Hawaii."
- 2008.01.23 -
Biomass plant hinges on tree type
- 2008.02.28 -
County Planning Commission Approves Biomass Plant (it says 7.1 MW)
- since mid-2008, no news.
- Green Energy Hawaii has also planted oil palms.
- EcoPower Hawaii was another company partnered with HMI, focused
- PowerPlants Hawaii was another company partnered wit HMI, building
greenhouses to do oil palm research. It also says they are developing
"solutions to resolve Hawaii’s dependence on fossil fuels for fertilizer
and energy through the utilization of charcoal produced locally from plant-based
materials as a permanent soil additive."
- HMI is also looking at biodiesel
- "HMI has also already planted thousands of oil palm trees for the production
of palm oil to be used in producing high quality biodiesel fuel."
- However since the HMI website
is broken (all links lead to filler page) it's hard to find out more
- There is a very cool
video on YouTube of
Bill Cowern about Albizia lumber, oil palm, even cutting-edge biochar
- At one point in 2007, "Cleaves & Company" would relocate an existing 4.5 megawatt biomass-to-energy
plant to Kauai, temporarily utilizing waste walnut shells be shipped from
California to Kauai in bulk until local biomass is available.
- as of 2008-03-11, deal is off?
- as of 2010, the company seems to no longer exist
- eGenesis Industries
- The first Eprida licensee, they
are proposing to build a larger version of the Eprida research machine,
at an estimated cost of $4 million, capable of 1 megawatt/hour, biodiesel,
and 400-800 lbs enriched biochar/day.
- Their FAQ specifically mentions Kaua'i as a proposed site! "Without
utilizing [a] tax credit, the Eprida machine just on energy and sales of
fertilizer should pay itself off in three years in Kauai." Presumably
this is being considered by the Green Energy / PowerPlants Hawaii folks
- In 2010, the
- HECO plans
110 MW biofuel plant to open in '09 in the Campbell Industrial Park
- There is a small, existing, waste oil to biodiesel conversion plant, as
- At the UH Hawaii Natural Energy Institute
(HNEI) Renewable Resources
Research Laboratory, they are doing work with "flash carbonization" to turn
any organic waste into charcoal, which will burn cleanly and offer many other
- Claim: "Charcoal would be a better choice than ethanol for the sustainable
production of electric power here in Hawaii: [..] a ton of corn stover will
deliver 37% more energy if it is converted into
charcoal instead of ethanol."
- Claim: "The cost of producing a ton of charcoal in the USA is usually
much less than $200"
- Claim: "The Biocarbon Fuel Cell has the potential to convert the chemical
energy of carbon into electric power with an efficiency approaching 100%"
- CTAHR biodiesel research has jatropha fields on the North Shore. Head
researcher in 2007: Richard Ogoshi.
- Hawaii Agriculture Research Center
(HARC) is a nonprofit in Aiea, Oahu
- September 2006: "Biodiesel Crop Implementation in Hawaii" by M.D. Poteet
of the HARC
(PDF 2 MB) - a long, excellently detailed presentation of every possible
bio oil crop
- the HARC website doesn't say anything about biofuels
- 2009.12.07 - Federal Biomass project funding
- Clearfuels Technology Inc.,
based in Hawaii (located at HARC), has received $23 million
in funding to work on a biorefinery project in Commerce City (Colorado).
The project will produce renewable diesel (Fischer-Tropsch) and jet fuel
from woody biomass. Part of partnership between ClearFuels and
- $25 million for "UOP LLC" in Kapolei. But, the
UOP website doesn't seem to say anything
- "The initiatives will create more than 600 jobs on Oahu and the Big
Island" says the Star Bulletin:
$48M stimulus to fund alternative energy plans
- "UOP will test a variety of biomass feedstocks at Tesoro's hydrogen
conversion-based fuels refinery in Kapolei during the pilot phase but
will utilize only locally grown feedstocks once commercial scale production
levels are achieved."
- 2007.07.06 - Maui News,
a potential for local-grown biofuel
- Hawaiian Electric Co. says there are at least 140,000 acres of land
in the islands that were once farmed but are now fallow.
- 2007.07.22 - Star Bulletin,
Tree holds promise
for future of biofuel
- UH hopes to grow an isle biofuel source to re-energize Hawaii's agriculture
- "Mike Poteet, a crop scientist with the Hawaii Agriculture Research
Center, believes biofuels have the potential to create a new agriculture
industry in Hawaii."
- "Steiner is leading a UH-Hilo effort to begin research in growing different
types of oil palm on 120 acres of land in Pa'auilo on the Hamakua coast."
- 2007.08.07 - Star Bulletin,
HECO plans biofuel
plant to open in '09
- HECO will build the $142.3 million facility on Oahu beginning early
- Will run exclusively on renewable fuels made from ethanol or biodiesel.
- 110 MW, joining the 1700 MW already on Oahu.
- 2007.10.04 - Pacific Business News,
Big Isle gets biodiesel grant
- 2007.10.09 - Tribune Herald, "Energy jobs for Big Isle"
- Energy jobs for Big Isle Tuesday, October 9, 2007 9:20
by Jason Armstrong Tribune-Herald Staff Writer
A private nonprofit agency in Hilo stands to receive nearly $1 million in
grants to grow a crop expected to power cars and electrical plants. The
Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council plans to clone
and mass cultivate Jatropha curcas seedlings under a $677,000 federal grant.
"This grant will create jobs for about 70 people on the Big Island and provide
needed information about the potential for Jatropha cultivation as a biodiesel
resource," said U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka in a written statement announcing
the grant award. "This project is an important step forward in our vision
for a self-sustaining energy future for Hawaii and our goal of significantly
reducing greenhouse gas emissions," he added. Akaka said the development
of alternative energy sources is Hawaii's best hope to reduce its use of
foreign oil. The crop, if successful, also could lower the Big Island's
fuel and electricity prices, which remain among the nation's highest.
Jatropha curcas, also known as Barbados nut or Physic nut, is a
shrub that originated in Central America, according to Wikipedia. Its seeds
produce oil that can burned in combustion engines, but is not suitable for
eating. HCEOC has been working with the crop for past 18
months on a 20-acre, state-owned farm in Hilo, said Executive Director
George Yokoyama. "We have committed to producing 2,400,000
seedlings in three years' time," he said. A rented warehouse in the Shipman
Industrial Park is being used for the cultivation work. Aloha Green,
a Big Island company, plans to buy the seedlings to produce biodiesel, Yokoyama
said. "We're thinking of electricity," he said of the energy goal. Others
are thinking of the crop, too. Jatropha curcas is now being grown
in India, Africa, South America and Asia, he said. "We're ahead of them,"
Yokoyama said, adding an internationally known biogenetic engineer has been
hired to help with the Hilo operation. Yokoyama said cloning the best plants
and then growing them should result in two to three harvests a year, compared
with a single crop in other countries. "We're getting inquiries from Italy,
Germany (and) Spain, you know, for our improved Jatropha seedlings, and
we're going to export that in flasks -- small seedlings in flasks -- so
the market is worldwide now," he said. The operation is expected to create
employment for 15 culture laboratory technicians, five field-researcher
technicians, 30 laboratory and field-equipment operators and 20 field workers.
Yokoyama said he hopes to hire welfare recipients, noting he's already working
with the state Department of Human Services to find candidates. He's also
expecting $240,000 that this year's state Legislature approved for the research
project. "It's going to be released by Oct. 31," Yokoyama said of the money
awaiting Gov. Linda Lingle's signature before it may be spent. "I got 'em
- 2007.12.12 - Financial Times,
Shell bets on algae to make biodiesel
- Shell hopes to build a commercial plant producing biodiesel from algae
in two years' time, following the launch yesterday of a joint venture with
Hawaii-based HR Biopetroleum to develop a research project in Hawaii.
- 2008.02.28 -
- "There was a talk on
jatropha this week—its use for biodiesel, and its place as part of the
solution to importing oil for transportation. We were told about a company
working on cloning a high-yielding jatropha plant that is uniform in stature,
so it lends itself to mechanical harvesting. They have plans to grow millions
of jatropha plants. The speaker said Kamehameha Schools is planting 2,500
acres of jatropha plants in Ka’u. He said there are 130,000 acres of land
on the Big Island suitable for jatropha cultivation."
- 2008.03.21 -
brews in Hawaii?
- 2008.08.28 -
Coal-Fired Plant Being Converted to Burn Biomass
- 2008.09.22 -
forest: Two men hope to harness eucalyptus for renewable energy
- 2008.10.07 -
Hamakua tree-to-power plan goes to BLNR
- 2008.11.20 -
UHH aids bioenergy plant plan: Scientists advise Hu Honua principals on suitable
- 2008.11.26 -
Biofuel race hitting full stride: Hamakua Biomass, Hu Honua vying for power
- 2008.12.07 -
Biomass energy has big future on Big Island
- 2009.01.14 -
Biofuel plans met skeptically
- 2009.01.26 -
6 companies vying for use of valued trees on Big Island
- 2009.02.04 -
The Bio-Fuel Land Rush, Part I: BLNR Bobbles Biofuel Agreements
- 2009.03.23 -
Part II: Biofuel plans falter, even as interest rises
- 2009.03.29 - (editorial by Kyle Datta)
Food, fuel, fiber: "Hawaii has all it needs to produce biofuels and cure
its dependence on oil"
- 2009.05.02 -
Power plant in Pepeekeo progressing
- 2009.06.12 -
Biomass plant fuels debate /
Wood-burning facility will meet all rules, say owners (Hu Honua)
- 2010.02.03 -
Biofuel expanding to the Big Island (Big Island Biodiesel)
- 2010.05.08 -
Contested case hearing slated for Pepeekeo proposal (Hu Honua)
- 2010.05.12 -
Generating Electricity Is Not Hu Honua’s Biggest Challenge (Ha Ha Ha)
- 2010.06.16 -
New partner bolsters plan to convert power plant (Hu Honua)
- 2010.06.24 -
10 answer HECO's call for biofuel
- 2010.06.27 -
Isle ethanol efforts stall:The two surviving ventures face high hurdles
- 2010.07.08 -
Lingle vetoes biofuel financing plan (HB 2497, actually about Carbon
Bio-Engineers Inc., not really about biofuels)
- 2011.02.01 -
HECO seeks company to supply biodiesel for Campbell plant (Oahu)
- 2011.02.04 -
Eucalyptus trees harvested in Hamakua for power experiment
(20 acres, from Big Island, to Oahu)
- 2011.02.26 -
Hu Honua lowers air pollution limits
Other Companies & Organizations
- BlueEarth Biofuels and
Pacific Biodiesel are two different
large companies that build and operate plants.
- Aloha Green LLC is a nursery
business in Onomea, with a mission "to serve as a positive catalyst for economic-sustainability
and revitalization of the Village communities along the Hamakua Coastal Region".
- HCEOC (Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council)
- No website. Are they state-wide or just Hawai'i County? They regularly
receive large grants from the State government to set up programs, often
to give jobs to the unemployed and welfare recipients.
- 47 Rainbow Dr Hilo, HI 96720, (808) 961-2681, George Yokoyama is at
- How about just burning wood/biomass super-cleanly at the household level,
- woodgas.com sells
a small unit for $55, but it seems underpowered and meant for camping, not serious
- Who sells serious household gasification units?
- Oil yields and
characteristics has a good general overview of the yield of various oil plants
(not Hawaii specific)
There have the most:
WorldWide - 2008