Categorized | Business, Energy

AES Hawaii burning eucalyptus for renewable energy


AES Hawaii Inc. began burning eucalyptus May 8 at its Kalaeloa plant and increased output from the plant May 11 from 180MW to 185MW to test if the trees can be effectively used as biomass and converted to renewable energy.

The eucalyptus was harvested from the 13,000-acre Sunbear Plantations on the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island, and is 100 percent sustainable.

If the test burn is successful, the biomass will result in 5MWs of renewable energy per year, with the potential to increase up to 20MWs per year, and create approximately 10 to15 full-time and two to three part-time jobs.

“Eucalyptus is a viable and sustainable source of alternative energy that is fast growing and can be harvested and converted with minimal environmental impact,” said Jeff Walsh, President and General Manager, AES Hawaii Inc. “Eucalyptus biomass will help to reduce Hawaii’s dependency on oil, decrease the cost of energy, and reduce the amount of carbon emitted into the environment. AES Hawaii is excited to lend a hand in helping to provide Hawaii with a renewable energy solution.”

The Sunbear Plantations site in Hamakua offers 2.5 million tons of eucalyptus standing on 13,000 acres and is a clean-burning and completely sustainable source of biomass. Once harvested, the roots naturally re-sprout.

It then takes approximately 10 to12 years for the new trees to reach full maturity when they can be ready for harvest. Sunbear has an eight-year lease agreement with Kamehameha Schools that would enable it to harvest at least 50,000 tons per year to produce 5MWs of renewable energy.

AES Hawaii is currently in negotiations to sell the biomass energy to Hawaiian Electric Company. The purchase of the biomass energy will require approval by the state Public Utilities Commission.

AES Hawaii Inc. currently provides approximately 20 percent of Oahu’s energy needs, and operates the single largest generator connected to the Oahu grid at its co-generation plant in Kapolei. Its primary fuel is clean bituminous coal, generating electricity that is sold to Hawaiian Electric Company at an energy cost that is nearly one-fourth the cost of energy generated from foreign oil.

Pricing of the biomass is also expected to compete with the cost of foreign oil. AES Hawaii Inc. hopes to begin commercial production of the 5MWs of biomass energy by the end of the year.

The AES Corporation is a Fortune 500 global power company with generation and distribution businesses. Through its diverse portfolio of thermal and renewable fuel sources, it safely provides affordable and sustainable energy in 28 countries.

The workforce of 29,000 people is committed to operational excellence and meeting the world’s growing power needs. The 2010 revenues were $17 billion and the company owns and manages $41 billion in total assets.

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2 Responses to “AES Hawaii burning eucalyptus for renewable energy”

  1. Calvin says:

    Thats freken stupid. Your going to harvest the biomass off the Big Island, and ship it to Oahu? Your going to burn oil to move it.
    What you need to do is harvest the biomass, make it into ethanol (Our gas has 10% ethanol by fed mandate)to blend into Big Island gas.
    Then whats left over after ethanol making can be burned to make power for Big Island. Keep the jobs and the money in the comunity.

  2. Cameron says:

    Im confused. you cut down trees and burn them for electricity, but first transporting it with fossil fuels, and then potentially increase this over the next coming years and call it sustainable? Can you elaborate please… I think the sun and wind and maybe somethin along the lines of “burning” waste and sewage, making viable products in the process, would produce far more electricity, and reduce the ecological impact for all of hawaii A LOT MORE than this idea.


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