How the US oil embargo affects the Achilles heel of Hawaii’s economy

The US state of Hawaii is highly dependent on oil for its energy supply. The recent increases in oil prices and the embargo imposed by the United States have significantly increased the pressure on Hawaii’s economy.

Compared to the European Union, the United States seemed to boycott all Russian oil imports without hesitation and with ease. Unlike the European Union, the United States does not depend at all on Russian gas and oil, but the embargo still leaves a trace here and there. The energy crisis is particularly painful for the island of Hawaii.

Transport sector

Hawaii is the state most dependent on oil in the United States. About 85 percent of Hawaii’s energy consumption is based on oil Aloha State Far ahead of Vermont, which ranks second in the list of oil-dependent countries in the United States at 56 percent.

Oil is not only an important source of energy. The inhabitants of the archipelago depend heavily on oil, especially for transportation. For example, gasoline and diesel for boats and kerosene for planes are needed to travel from one island to another. This makes the transportation sector good for two-thirds of the archipelago’s oil consumption.

So the Hawaiian government is trying to encourage the use of electric cars in a big way, giving them discounts on the electricity needed to charge electric vehicles, and often allowing electric vehicles to park them for free. As a result, the state now has the second largest number of electric vehicles per capita in the United States.

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Russian oil

The archipelago itself does not have any gas, oil or coal sources for power generation. Therefore Hawaii is completely dependent on imports for the supply of crude oil. Until March 4, Russia was the largest supplier of petroleum to the American island nation. About a third of the total amount of oil came from Russia.

On March 4, just days before US President Joe Biden imposed a national oil embargo, the Hawaiian government announced an immediate moratorium on all imports from Russia. Eric Wright, President of Par Hawaii, I know. Hawaii Bar is the only oil refinery in the state.

Unfortunately, there seems to be little truth in Wright’s reassuring words. Oil prices in Hawaii are the highest in the United States after California.

The potential of renewable resources

Although there is no oil, gas, or coal in the Hawaiian Islands, two sources of energy are abundant: sunlight and wind. Fortunately, the Hawaiian government has known for several years that extensive external dependence on fossil fuels is an Achilles heel. Since 2007, the island nation has built an infrastructure for renewable energy sources.

The sun in particular is an important source of energy. As a result, Hawaii has the highest number of solar panels per household in the United States. In 2020, solar energy generated up to 64 percent of the total share of renewable energy. In 2022, solar power generation from small-scale solar panels in residential and commercial buildings will be around 1,000 megawatts. The state’s largest solar farm can generate up to 49 megawatts, and two new farms, each with a capacity of 60 megawatts, are scheduled to come online in 2022.

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There is also a lot of potential in wind energy and other renewable sources such as biothermal energy from the island’s volcanic heat. Even how ocean waves are able to generate energy is being investigated.

trade off

But such a far-reaching transformation doesn’t just happen from day to day, and the government sometimes blocks it. For example, any proposal to build a nuclear power plant must receive a two-thirds majority in the Hawaiian Parliament and Senate. The strict laws that must protect the animals and plants in Hawaii also prevent the construction of additional solar and wind farms.

Like the rest of the world, according to Melissa Miyashiro, director of the NGO Blue Planet, there are trade-offs in Hawaii over land use for renewables.

(fjc)

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