Advancing the sustainability of the Pacific
Hawaiʻi’s leadership in energy innovation reaches back well over a century, and continues today. ENGIE is proud to be a part of continuing this heritage.
A history of energy innovation
King David Kalākaua was a visionary monarch who keenly understood the importance of diplomacy and innovation. In 1874, he was the guest of honor at the very first state dinner at the White House, hosted by President Ulysses Grant. In 1881, he became the first world leader to circumnavigate the globe, meeting with heads of state and establishing diplomatic relationships around the world. On this tour, the King met with Thomas Edison, inventor of the incandescent lamp.
By the end of the 1880s, ʻIolani Palace and its grounds were wired and lit with electricity, as were the streets of Honolulu, powered by hydroelectric generation in Nuʻuanu. About 800 homes and businesses in Honolulu had electricity before the White House. Systems in a sugar mill on Maui and a boarding school in Hilo on Hawaiʻi Island were electrified at around the same time.
Through the 1900s and 2000s, many renewable energy sources were added to Hawaiʻi’s energy mix. These sources included geothermal, hydroelectric, locally-produced biodiesel, ocean thermal energy conversion, rooftop and utility-scale solar, waste-to-energy, and wind. By 2016, Hawaiʻi’s residential and commercial solar use was nearly 20 times the national average.
A renewed drive toward clean energy
In the middle of the Pacific, thousands of miles from the nearest continent, Hawaiʻi is among the places the most vulnerable to a changing climate and evolving global geopolitical landscape. The fossil fuel used to generate most of Hawaiʻi’s energy today is imported, often from unstable, turbulent places, leaving Hawaiʻi vulnerable to increases in prices and disruptions in supply over which we have no control. Today, Hawaiʻi pays electricity rates more than double the national average.
A growing awareness that an economy and lifestyle built upon imported fossil fuels is not sustainable has driven a number of initiatives in recent years to accelerate Hawaiʻi’s move to clean energy.
The Hawaiʻi Clean Energy Initiative was passed into state law in 2008, and updated in 2015. The initiative mandates that Hawaiʻi be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2045.
The Aloha+ Challenge, committed to by Hawaiʻi’s four county mayors, the governor, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, sets a goal of 40% renewable energy and a 30% reduction in consumption by 2030. The Aloha+ Challenge was inspired by island leadership commitments, and builds on a legacy of community initiatives including Hawai‘i 2000, Mālama Hawai‘i, and Hawai‘i 2050 to support collective action.
On a global level, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for worldwide action on environment, social, and economic priorities. Hawai‘i’s Aloha+ Challenge is a locally driven framework for the SDGs that can be scaled to support place-based implementation of the global agenda.
The Hawai‘i Green Growth UN Local2030 Hub is a public-private partnership committed to advancing and tracking Hawaiʻi’s progress toward these goals. See our progress at the Aloha+ Challenge Dashboard.
ENGIE’s role in Hawaiʻi’s clean energy future
ENGIE is a provider of clean, affordable energy around the world, in the Pacific, and in Hawai‘i. ENGIE Hawai‘i brings global expertise to our local energy challenges through a team of kama‘āina who have been serving Hawai‘i for over a decade. Our team is based on O‘ahu and Hawai‘i Island.
With significant presence in the Pacific – from energy solutions for Hawaiʻi’s public schools, to operating electric utilities in French Polynesia, Vanuatu and New Caledonia – ENGIE has over 70 years of experience addressing the major challenges that islands face when it comes to energy. The limited availability of resources on islands represents both a challenge and an opportunity for spearheading innovative, integrated approaches to clean energy.
In Hawaiʻi, ENGIE has applied its experience to the Ka Hei project, bringing efficiency and sustainability to Hawaiʻi’s public schools. ENGIE is also working on four proposed clean energy projects: on Hawaiʻi Island at Puakō and Waikoloa, on Maui, and on Oʻahu.