by Andrew Walden
What will Hawaii’s wind farms look like after ten or 20 years?
Readers may be familiar with the post-industrial wasteland at Kamaoa on the South Point of the Big Island—a 1980s leftover from the last tax-credit-driven wind bubble.
But Kamaoa is not the only “clean energy” junkyard scarring the Island of Hawai`i. At Lalamilo, South Kohala, hidden several miles mauka of Puako, far off the Queen Kaahumanu highway--are the ruins of another taxpayer-funded wind disaster.
Built in 1985, Lalamilo had the “capacity” to produce 1.6MW of electricity from 81 Jacobs wind generators.
Lalamilo before it started falling apart.
But “capacity” and reality are two different things. In fact, most of Lalamilo’s turbines either fell off or burned out long ago.
Nonetheless, HELCO used Lalamilo in 2006 to “successfully” test an “electric shock absorber” – which HELCO describes as “an ultra-capacitors and was developed at Hawaiian Electric to integrate fluctuating wind power into the electric grid by mitigating short duration frequency and voltage deviations.”
(A shiny object to distract politicians.)
But how much electricity was there to buffer? Images of Lalamilo from 2006—provided to Hawai`i Free Press by an electrician working on the site--show toppled derricks littering the landscape.
This is another peek into Hawaii’s future.
Both Kamaoa and Lalamilo rank among the world’s best wind energy sites, yet neither works -- even with massive government subsidies in the form of tax-credits.
According to DBEDT, “Hawai'i County and the Water Board are in the process of procuring a developer/contractor to build a new wind farm at this historically productive location.”
Related: Wind Energy's Ghosts