Study underway to determine cost of floating windfarm off Hawaii

Updated: Feb. 5, 2021 at 9:57 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Floating windfarms can be found in Europe and are being talked about in places like California. Now, they could be a reality in the Hawaiian Islands.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory is studying how much would a floating windfarm cost in waters off Oahu. However, like the turbines on land, some in Hawaii say they won’t be welcome.

“Looking at the beautiful ocean and beautiful Diamond Head and see ugly windmills in the middle of the ocean,” said Ewa Beach state Sen. Kurt Fevella.

NREL is studying three areas: One between Kaena Point and Kauai, another in an area south of Waikiki, and the third east of Hawaii Kai and northwest of Molokai.

The federal agency says the feedback so far shows Hawaii residents are evenly split on the issue.

“Rural areas are becoming basically the grounds for all the wind turbines and the solar panels in order to feed places like Honolulu and Waikiki,” said Life of the Land Executive Director Henry Curtis.

“So if they want to do their share towards 100 percent sustainable energy, then having some off the South Coast makes sense.”

Back in 2016, a Danish developer proposed 51 floating wind turbines secured by anchors and electrical cables 12 miles northwest of Kaena Point.

Several companies are already ready with proposals if the state signs off.

After the cost study is completed, an environmental impact study will take place.

Both Curtis and Fevella raised concerns about the threat to local wildlife.

“With land wind systems, you can actually go out and count the dead carcasses and know what happened,” said Curtis. “Whereas if a bird flies into a giant turbine at sea and falls into the water and is eaten, you don’t have any record of what’s happened.”

“It’s going to hurt our reef, our fishery,” added Fevella.

To comment on the cost study, click here. The deadline to submit input is Friday.

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