Local Electricity Experts Ponder Ways to Reach 100% Renewable Power

San Antonio's Climate Change Action Plan, commits the city to moving toward a complete phase out of fossil fuels later in this century, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

But how will that happen? Electricity expert say...look to Hawaii.

Kimberly Britton, who runs the innovate energy incubator EPICenter, says Hawaii, largely out of necessity, has become a world leader in the transition to renewable energy, and can teach us much about the opportunities, and challenges, that the transition will include.

"They are seeing, increasingly, about a third of their entire energy provision comes from rooftop solar," she said of Hawaii, where shipping oil and gas in is expensive, land to build refineries is scarse, and running power lines undersea from island to island is impractical. She says due to those challenges, Hawaii has had to move earlier than most states in coming up with alternative energy.

She says the population of Hawaii and the population of metro San Antonio are similar, but there are wide differences in cultures which must be overcome. Hawaii has a history, due to its isolation and its high costs, to doing more with less, and doing it more efficiently, while Texas has a tradition of thinking big and now caring about things like cutting back. Britton says that will be a challenge as San Antonio seeks to implement the provisions of the Climate plan.

"Frankly, there are some real challenges to going to a 100% renewable environment," she said.

The biggest challenge today, she said, is the necessity of developing large capacity batteries, which can hold electric power generated by wind and solar, for those days when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining.

"Battery storage is essentially if we are to rely heavily on a grid that depends on renewables."

Hawaii has dealt with that problem on a smaller, island-by-island scale by using 'inverters' to help manage the ups and downs of power generation.

Britton says Hawaii shows that, yes, there are challenges to the conversion to renewable fuels, but it also shows that the conversion will be possible.

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