Oahu company turns eucalyptus trees into energy - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Oahu company turns eucalyptus trees into energy

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A company that burns coal for power at Campbell Industrial Park is now experimenting with an additive.

On Sunday, AES Hawaii Inc. began mixing chips from eucalyptus trees with its coal.

The company wants to generate five more megawatts of electricity from the renewable source.  That's enough energy to power 5,000 homes on Oahu.

AES already delivers 180 megawatts of energy to Hawaiian Electric.

"The first step is where we are today. We're conducting a test burn to ensure that our process is capable of combusting safely, environmentally friendly and effectively, eucalyptus biomass," company vice president Patrick Murphy said.

He said once AES gets regulatory approval it will need 50,000 tons of eucalyptus chips a year.

The eucalyptus chips for the test came from trees grown on former sugar cane land along the Big Island of Hawaii's Hamakua coast.

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