Maui is mostly powered by fossil fuels, but wind and solar are becoming increasingly more present. We’re also looking into algae and the ocean for our power. The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative aims to have the State of Hawaii using 70% clean energy by 2030.
Current Primary Energy Source
Maui Electric Power Plant
Also referred to as the Maalaea Power Plant, is located off of North Kihei Road, just minutes away from Maalaea Harbor. At this power plant, fossil fuels are converted into electricity. Most of the island (and our surrounding Maui County islands of Lanai and Molokai) get power from this source. Fossil Fuels pollute the environment and are not a renewable energy.
Kaheawa Wind Farm
Located on the West Maui Mountains just above Maalaea Harbor, Kaheawa Wind has 20 wind turbines that generate around 30MW of electricity. This is the first major step Maui has taken towards large scale percentages of our energy coming from renewable, nonpolluting sources. Operated by First Wind, Kaheawa Wind Farm brings Maui a considerable amount of energy.
On Maui, we have a few prominent companies offering solar energy to residences and businesses. The island’s solar energy use is gradually growing each year. Maui is a great spot to use solar. Many areas, like Wailea and Lahaina, get sun almost all year long. It’s nice to see some people taking advantage of this.
Future Maui Energy Projects
It looks as though Maui may have one of the first Algae biofuel plants coming soon. They’ve been testing a smaller version of one on the Big Island, but they’re ready to start a full scale plant in Maalaea soon.
What they would do is use a fast growing Algae in seawater, then convert this algae into energy. This process is renewable.
Using large pod vessels attached to the bottom of the ocean, some have expressed interest in using swell to generate energy off of our northern shores. If this can be done without harming the underwater environment, it would be a great idea that is completely renewable and clean.
It’s Up To Us To Educate!
I’ll never forget doing a dinner cruise from Maalaea Harbor on a beautiful afternoon. We cruised out with cocktails, watched whales, and enjoyed fun, island music during a perfect Maui sunset.
We started getting chummy with some nearby passengers, as one does after a few drinks. These tourists were American and very nice. At one point, the mother in the group looked up at our new wind farm and scoffed. She said, “It’s really a shame that they have those there. They’re so ugly, and they really take away from this place.”
I sat there and thought about what she said. I was too nice, and too happy at that moment, to confront her about how stupid she sounded. I regret having not said something to her. This was my chance to educate this woman and her family as to the importance of abandoning fossil fuels for cleaner energies.
It’s amazing that a person can one moment comment on the beauty of the atmosphere and nearby whales, then comment on an eye-sore that is the future of keeping her coming back. If we keep spewing out pollution, the Humpbacks will find somewhere else to vacation, and so will our tourism.
World Traveler, Digital Nomad, Small Business Enthusiast, and Lover of words! Originally from Austin, Texas, I’ve lived on Maui for many years. Currently in Los Angeles.
I wish there were some way to use bamboo (in an environmentally safe way) for energy. The stuff is ruining the island! The views on the road to Hana are so overgrown with bamboo, we rarely drive that road anymore.
I am sorry but the wind farms are ugly in that they represent our energy entitlement attitude, that is the real problem, we need to STOP using so much energy and quit the with attitude that we can have unlimited access to as much electricity as we want …the average person today uses about 40 times the annual energy that we did 50 yrs ago…our entitled lifestyles are to blame. We are ruining the earth with this arrogance so if you really want to slap someone, slap yourself for being so entitled and ignorant, also lets not be violent towards people w a different opinion…thats just terrible! Shame on you twice!
Yet here you are surfing the net using power, right Mike? Perhaps it’s time to lead by example, right Mike?
Or perhaps the population of the world is growing and there is a larger demand to accommodate, right Mike?
Careful of the fall from your horse
I visit Maui 2-4 times a year so I get a series of snapshots of progress. From my perspective progress in this area is painfully slow. There is so much renewable energy available here that it’s a shame so much reliance is still on fossil fuel. I’m building a house in Seattle and am even installing solar panels there and perhaps my own wind turbine too. The incentives I get for solar make that choice easy. Hawaii should lead the nation in environmental causes!
TOTALLY AGREE! It’s definitely slow going. Maui and Hawaii should really be leading the World as an example. We have plenty of wind, rain, ocean waves and sunshine. There’s really no excuse.
Maui could burn all their domestic garbage to generate electricity.
That’s a pretty painful idea…
I come from a community where a garbage burning facility was built, amid a lot of concern, public meetings, etc. 35 years later the plant generates reliable electricity, dioxin levels are low, farming happens next door, getting rid of things like medical waste, PCB’s is not an issue, and recycle rates are still very high. I am not sure though that Maui would generate enough garbage volume to make it work, even if supplimental bamboo burning was used
Wind, solar, algae, kinetic (wave action), etc will NOT get Hawaii to 70% renewable by 2030 (or even 2040, for that matter). That’s a political ploy.
Geothermal is the ONLY possible way forward for planet Earth. All research, experimentation, funding, etc, should be focused on geothermal until it is achieved!