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Saturday, June 24, 2017


8thOEEDSW, of course, stands for the title of the posting yesterday:  8th Ocean Energy and Economic Development Symposium and Workshop.  Our first stop was Hale Iako, in a newly refurbished and expanded structure where the first day conference was held.  Iako is the Hawaiian term for connector (middle portion) of a double-hulled canoe, like Hokulea, and is symbolic of the purpose of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, which is to connect people to technology to the ocean and so on.  To the left, Yasu Ikegami, the current Japan professorial authority on ocean thermal energy conversion, and Kumejima Mayor Haruo Ota.

The tour continued with a look at the 105 kW Makai OTEC facility, here, Mike Eldredge with Reiko, translator:

This is not a leaning tower, just the angle of my shot.  The Kumejima system produces 100 MW.  Then on to the Kanaloa Octopus Farm:

They have yet to close the growth cycle, so commercialization is some years away.  We dropped by the ESPEC mineral-enriched vegetable operations (we will later have their lettuce for lunch):

The Hawaii Natural Energy Institute has a hydrogen transport operation here, as explained by Aaron McCall:

We had to skip the abalone tour because we were late, and began the program with John De Fries from the Friends of NELHA who was superb as moderator:

Kumu Lily Dudoit provided the Hawaiian dedication and welcome:

Tom Goya, also from the Friends, and formerly with Hawaii Electric Light Company, commemorated Okinawa's Memorial Day, June 23.  

Julie Yunker, Strategy Officer for the State of Hawaii, provided the state welcome:

Will Okabe, Managing Director, gave the Hawaii County welcome:

Mayor Haruo Ota did the same for Kumejima:

Tsutomu Miyahira did it for the central government of Japan:

Greg Barbour gave a NELHA update:

The OTEC commercialization roadmap was especially informative, for the current plans are now to build "only" a 100-300 kW operational OTEC power plant by 2021, effectively ceding the 1 MW to the Kumejima facility.  Then NELHA will jump to an offshore (meaning on a floating platform) 5 MW OTEC facility around 2030.  This is certainly a realistic projection in consideration of the partnership with Kumejima and the severe environmental constraints demanded by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Lunch was free and incredible:

Kona Kampachi with Spirulina Misoyaki, Kona Cold Lobster Loui Salad, Big Island Abalone Sashimi, that special high mineral lettuce and rice.  If only they had served glasses of Chardonnay, that would have been perfect.

In the afternoon Robert Baughman, Executive Vice President for Technology Development and Innovation with the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, talked about his truly innovative institution:

He has effectively been with OIST since the beginning in 2005.  Only a 5-year PhD program, originally, the objective was to produce Nobel Laureates in science.  I've posted on this effort several times.  Here is one.  My sense, talking to Baughman and those involved with that school, gives me an impression that the goals are shifting.  Sure, of course, produce future Nobel prize winners, but also attempt to link with the needs of Okinawa and real world applications.  Even though the T stands for technology, unfortunately, the current staff is so fundamentally scientific, that there is a lack of individuals with the necessary vision and capability to capably make this shift.  Further, in energy, they're into bioethanol and wave power, two declining fields.  But they have yet to attain maximum staffing, so future hires should be able to bridge that gap.

The next speaker was a revelation.  Stephen Walls, policy advisor to Strategic Programs in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy.  

With Donald Trump now as president, I wonder if it was safe for him to say positive things about islands and energy self-sufficiency.  Maybe the current staff in the USDOE will maintain a James Comey-like adherence to what is right and necessary.  President Trump can't fire all 2.8 million working for the Federal government.  This does not include those in military uniform.

Julie Yunker returned to detail Hawaii's Clean Energy Transformation. 

Note that the Big Island is already at 54% self-sufficiency.  I later discussed with her what those percentages meant.  She said all those numbers you see, like 100% renewables by 2045, only apply to electricity.  So I asked her, if Hawaii reaches that 100% goal, what would really be the percentage for all the energy we use.  She and Steve Wall surmised, maybe 33%, for 67% goes towards transportation, and aviation uses more than ground transport.  Read my Huffington Post article on The Future of Sustainable Aviation, and you can only get depressed about future prospects.

Wil Roston, Energy Coordinator for the County of Hawaii reviewed their statistics and efforts:

Osamu Ashimine, from the Okinawa government talked about their energy strategy:

Our final speaker was Jay Ignacio, president of Hawaii Electric Light Company, on their strategy:

I was curious as to why, way into the future, I forgot the date, HELCO plans to double solar energy use, while keeping wind energy constant, when the price of the latter is half the former.  So I went to talk to him.  His response was that this is what the people want.  More in jest, I said, is that smart?

For a little more than an hour the participants split into two groups to talk about Deep Seawater Industries and Environment Considerations, led by Jan War, chief operations officer of NELHA, and Keith Olson, Chief Science Officer of the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park.

There will be two more of these discussion groups, and at the end of the day tomorrow I will moderate the summary presentations of all four.


Friday, June 23, 2017


This 8th Okinawa-Hawaii gathering, occurring even years in Okinawa and odd years at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, usually is held linked to a broader renewable energy conference in Honolulu, which this year was a virtual event held from June 20-22.  

The Big Island version this time will feature tours through the Hale Iako incubator, Makai OTEC facility, Hawaii Natural Energy Institute Hydrogen Project, Espec MIC Corporation vegetable production, Kanaloa Octopus and Big Island Island Abalone.   The participants will also visit Henk Rogers' sustainable Puu Waawaa Ranch project, featuring solar cells, ferrous phosphate lithium batteries and hydrogen.

My main contribution at this conference will be to provide a background statement of the subject and relationships, and if you're interested in previous meetings held in Hawaii (Professor Yasu Ikegami of Saga University at top, Professor Mac Takahashi, formerly from Tokyo University, on the right, and me):
  • 2nd:  I helped Guy Toyama facilitate the meeting
  • 4th
  • 6th
I will also moderate the final panel discussion of the breakout sessions reporting on:
  • OTEC Technology
  • Education and International Cooperation
  • Deep Sea Water Industry
  • Environmental Considerations
  • Research

We started with a reception and dinner at the King Kamehameha Hotel.

I sat next to Mayor Haruo Ota of Kumejima, and next to him was R&D Director Diane Ley of the County of Hawaii.  We discussed OTEC and the Blue Revolution.


Thursday, June 22, 2017


Nothing to do with The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, nor The Bad and The Beautiful, the former film with Clint Eastwood, and the latter with Kirk Douglas and Lana Turner.  But for future reference, consider that Rotten Tomatoes gave TGTBTU 97 ratings for both reviewers and audiences, while TBTB scored 96/85.  But those terms well describe my visit to Kona thus far.

First, this summer looms to be good, bad and, maybe, beautiful, but not for Donald Trump.  Depending where you are, north or south hemisphere, your solstice just passed, meaning you already experienced your longest/shortest day of the year.

Perhaps our President learned something.  He has kept hands off the assassination of Obamacare in the U.S. Senate so that he is not blamed for another failure.   Protesters are not lining the White House nor any Trump hotel.  But that will yet come by Labor Day on a range of other controversies.

There is a difference between good and beautiful, for you can be beautiful and bad, or good and ugly. You can also be beautiful and good, as are most of us.  I'll begin with some beautiful photos from my hotel room, with an enjoyable breakfast in the Kaiulu Lounge:

See that white spot on the horizon on the top photo?  That's the Pride of America moored off my next hotel, King Kamehameha, a distance of seven miles.  However, another shot showed the volcanic air pollution affecting this region, a definite bad:

I caught the Kona Trolley, which is free for Sheraton hotel guests,  otherwise $2 every time you get on, to the Keauhou Shopping Center, to have lunch at Sam Choy's Kai Lanai.  I was surprised to learn that it has been around since 2011.

Portuguese sausage, fish and eggs with rice, a salad, plus glasses of chardonnay and beer.  The view was spectacular, so this meal was both good and beautiful.

I noticed several birds eyeing my meal, with an owl statue behind the palm.  I was thinking of getting one of those to scare away the birds on my lanai.  The waitress said it doesn't work:

Way in the background to the left is the Sheraton Kona, about a mile away.  Here is an example of something that could be good, bad or beautiful, depending on your point of view:

Sam Choy must either love or hate marlins.

I then bought a bottle of beer, some potato chips and spicy Italian Subway for my sunset dinner on my room lanai, then re-boarded the trolley into Kailua-Kona town:

That's a grass shack on the grounds of the Courtyard Marriott King Kam.

Well, dinner on my lanai did not work out so well.  First of all, it rained so I could not see any sun setting.  I sat on my chair and did not realize the cushion was soaked.  The rained had stopped so I set up my meal:

The wine came from the club lounge.  Just as I began eating, with a wet bottom, the rains re-came, and, so quickly, that the potato chips got soggy.  So, no doubt, this was a bad meal, again, when you include yesterday night.

Which returns me to the Sheraton Kona, where just six months ago all was fine.  So much of value, in fact, that I decided to return.  The problem is once you find a fault, you seek others, and, maybe, the problem is me...but:
  • On check-in, my room was not ready, so I waited.  They took my cell phone number and said they'd call me.  Never did.  Two hours later I inquired, and was told the room was available.
  • I was looking forward to a sunset dinner at Ray's on the Bay, so I called the concierge.  She said it was closed and that she was with a customer so will call me back for other options.  An hour and a half later, I finally went down to check.  There was no concierge on duty.  Later in the day I saw someone there so I asked again.  Ray's had just closed for re-construction, so I made a reservation for Ainakai at 6:30, requesting an ocean view.  As a Platinum member, I had a card that insured for a premium table.
    • I showed up at 6:30, and the place was well crowded.  I was taken to a particularly terrible location, so I said I had inquired for an ocean view.  I happened to spot one table available at the window that seemed to be unoccupied.  After a lot of hemming and hawing, I was reluctantly taken there, disgruntling the staffer.
    • It took forever to get my meal.  But I could understand their dilemma, for this was only the second night of opearation.
    • But there were flies.  A lot of flies.  The last time my blog reported on this problem, I was at the Four Seasons Koele on Lanai.  Soon thereafter, the whole hotel was closed for re-conditioning and won't reopen until late 2018.
  • I inquired about a local newspaper and the response was that some are left at the check-in desk table in the morning, and first come, first served.  Nothing was available even for purchase.  No West Hawaii Today, no Star-Advertiser...but something that looked like a Japanese language newspaper.  The closest to getting anything English was a store in the shopping center, a mile walk uphill.  The second morning I went, and nothing.  In all Sheraton executive lounges, they normally have a lot of copies.  Here, none.  They usually deliver me a morning paper, and they don't do this here.
  • The check-in desk staffer was surly, and the staff now very uneven.  Some great, many not.
  • The internet service comes and goes.  Midway through my stay I had to work with a technical services person located somewhere else in the world, who, after more than half an hour later, got me going again.  Same thing happened the second day.
  • The elevators need to be re-conditioned.
  • The rugs are here and there spotty, if not dangerous.
  • The volcanic haze is a problem in this part of the island.  Not terrible, but, in the long term, I would expect respiratory problems to occur.
  • One of the pillows smelled, very badly.
  • The hair dryer had no heat.
  • The plumbing is faulty, with the water flow too low, and not hot enough water.  The toilet water level is too high, which can lead to body contact, to put it nicely, if you are a male.
  • My entrance door takes a full body push to open.
Something is terribly wrong with this hotel.  I suspect the transition to Marriott ownership is the reason.  The location is great if you want to be isolated.  The views are wonderful.  Everything else is going haywire.  That's bad.

Tomorrow, on to the Okinawa-Hawaii OTEC gathering.