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Hawaii wants all of its ground transportation to fuel up using renewable energy by 2045.
It’s a big step, but Hawaii is already showing commitments to similar policies. It already has some of the most aggressive renewable energy targets in the nation, aiming for all its energy providers to be 100 per cent renewable by 2045.
And now green energy advocates want to extend that goal to cars and public transport. Senate Bill 1186 was introduced in January by Democratic Senator Lorraine Inouye. If it passes, it would make Hawaii the first state to set such an aggressive goal for its auto industry. “The majority of our fossil fuel goes into transportation, and that’s a challenge that we have to solve … we currently don’t have a vision for what that future looks like,” says Jeff Mikulina, executive director of a local non-profit backing the bill.
But it won’t be easy. Hawaii only has 5,000 electric vehicles on the road out of an estimated 1 million cars total. Furthermore, the state represents a relatively small chunk of the U.S. market. “Our ability to achieve it is really going to be dependent on what happens throughout the entire automotive industry,” says Hugh Baker, managing director of an energy consultant backing the bill. “We can say we want 100 per cent clean transportation technology, but the market in Hawaii is not nearly big enough by itself to move the whole global automotive industry. It will really take more than just Hawaii.”
To help deal with the transition the state recently created a new Department of Transportation position, focusing on renewable transportation fuels. They are also planning to build more electric vehicle charging stations into Honolulu’s downtown core, said state Rep. Chris Lee, chairman of the Energy and Environment committee.
Mikulina says encouraging more electric vehicles can help Hawaii meet its renewable electricity goals. “It’s easier to manage more renewable energy when we have electric vehicles on the grid that can suck up that excess.” Unlike Hawaii’s mandate for 100 per cent renewable electricity, which imposes a fine for state utilities if they don’t comply by the deadline, Bill 1186 is not a mandate. Instead, it’s an overall goal for the state.