With more than 90 percent of Hawaii’s energy needs dependent on imported fossil fuels, we are particularly vulnerable to supply shortages. Unlike in years past, less than 4% of Hawaii’s petroleum consumption originates from domestic U.S. supplies; the remainder comes from foreign sources and depends increasingly on Middle Eastern sources. With rapidly escalating energy costs, negative impacts of energy importation can be expected to intensify in the future. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop local energy production capacity to improve Hawaii’s energy security and the State economy.
Parallel to this need is the mission of the national Sun Grant Initiative to grow renewable energy and biobased industries that revitalize rural communities by harnessing science and technological capacities of research, education and extension programs at the U.S. Land-Grant Universities.
Sun Grant Initiative and the Western Insular Pacific Sun Grant Sub center
The 110th Congress of the United States of America passed the “Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008,” more commonly known as the “2008 Farm Bill.” The Act contains authorization language to establish the Sun Grant Program, and authorizes the Secretary to establish and carry out a program to provide grants to the Sun Grant centers and sub center to:
• enhance national energy security through the development, distribution, and implementation of biobased energy technologies;
• promote diversification in, and the environmental sustainability of, agricultural production in the United States through biobased energy and product technologies;
• promote economic diversification in rural areas of the United States through biobased energy and product technologies; and
• enhance the efficiency of bioenergy and biomass research and development programs through improved coordination and collaboration among the Department of Agriculture; the Department of Energy; and land-grant colleges and universities.
The Act authorized five Regional Sun Grant Centers at Land-Grant institutions.
• North-Central at South Dakota State University
• Southeastern at the University of Tennessee
• South-Central at Oklahoma State University
• Western at Oregon State University
• Northeastern at Cornell University
More information on the Sun Grant Initiative can be found at http://www.sungrant.org
The regional concept allows each center to focus on the priority areas and feedstock unique to their respective area.
The Act also authorized the Western Insular Pacific Subcenter at the University of Hawaii for the region of Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.
Establishment of the Western Insular Pacific Sun Grant Subcenter at the University of Hawaii at Manoa will formally associate the University of Hawaii with the Sun Grant Initiative and provide added visibility to the University of Hawaii at Manoa as only the third US institution that can claim Land, Sea, Space and Sun Grant status. Establishment of the Subcenter will also facilitate collaboration with the other regional Sun Grant Centers.