There’s an interesting parallel between the transit project’s development and the roll-out of green energy here: As each new segment of rail comes on line, so will greater percentages of renewable energy in meeting Oahu’s electricity demand, including rail.
Eventually, we can anticipate running the project on energy produced by wind, solar, biomass and even ocean energy. Ocean thermal energy conversion will be developed here one day, even though the challenges are large – but so, too, is OTEC’s limitless potential thanks to the abundance of solar energy stored in the ocean that surrounds us. (Patrick Takahashi of Honolulou posts frequently on The Huffington Post about renewable energy, including this post in November on OTEC.)
Environmentalists on Board
The Oahu group of the Sierra Club supports development of a rail system on the island in part because trains are more energy efficient than single-occupant cars and trucks. Trains use 37 percent less energy per passenger mile, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2007 Data Book. Trains are becoming lighter and more fuel efficient, too.
By taking thousands of cars off the road each day, the Honolulu project will also help lessen our local contribution to greenhouse gas emissions from our transportation sector.
The Brookings Institute, a nonprofit public policy group, reported in a 2008 study:
When our renewable energy industry hits full stride, Honolulu’s train will be running on clean green energy from the sun in one form or another -- reducing the growth in car usage and helping Hawaii realize its renewable energy potential.