Oahu Heating Up? New Geothermal Testing Could Change Energy Plan

National Park Service

Scientists are set to begin testing for geothermal energy potential on Oahu and other Hawaiian islands. And what they find could change the direction of Hawaii’s energy policy.

Tests conducted several decades ago, show that the thermal energy lying below the Big Island’s volcanic rifts is enough to power the state’s electricity needs seven times over, according to a report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The newest of the Hawaiian islands, where hot lava still erupts from the Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes, has been a natural focus for developing the resource. The Big Island is the site of the only geothermal plant in the state, run by Puna Geothermal Venture.

But the old studies show that lower-intensity resources exist on Maui and Oahu. And new technology that is better able to test for the resource could prove that the islands are also good locations for development.

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