High Tech Maui Newsletter-E-Edition January, 2009

In This Issue:

Mapping the Planet’s Last Great Frontier: Joe Breman and International Underwater Explorations

  IUE takes data and creates information portfolios. In this example, Global Seafloor data are merged with higher resolution regional oceanographic data including whale location points for the past decade (darker points are more recent), and deep sea cable survey locations. Data provided by Smith and Sandwell, NOAA, and The Nature Conservancy.

The ocean depths may hold unfathomable mysteries and all manner of things for writers and filmmakers (think: The Abyss, The Big Blue, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), but for Joe Breman and his company, International Underwater Explorations, LLC (IUE), they are an exciting new frontier.

Breman’s company applies global bathymetry, or underwater terrain, with data from cruises conducted by agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – and weather feeds from the National Weather Service and other sources including Google Earth to produce up-to-date, web-based information and high-resolution multi-dimensional ocean maps.

IUE’s analytic and visualization services also incorporate the overlay of ocean temperature and current information. The software products that result, together with data application and integration, provide further invaluable information on the barely-explored realm that makes up two-thirds of our planet’s surface.

There are multiple applications for IUE’s innovative, high-quality work: for example, determining sea-bed topography for placement of underwater communications and power cables; mapping underwater features for ocean navigation; dredging projects; oil exploration and conservation; placement of ocean fish farms and aquaculture installations; and coastal resource management and reef protection. In one way or another, geography plays an important role in all kinds of decision making.

Other potential applications include renewable and sustainable ocean energy projects. Breman explains, “Ocean power generation and sea floor turbines that use deep currents and temperature differences to produce electricity are among the proposed sources of renewable energy that will become increasingly important as the cost and supply of traditional fossil fuels cause the reevaluation of our energy resources.”

“We work with geospatial data and create web applications, using the most current technology,” says Breman. “With the most recent innovations in Geographic Information Systems mapping and the internet, we help people and organizations move from data, to information, to knowledge and decision support.”

Their work is not limited just to the ocean. IUE’s high-resolution mapping techniques can also be applied to terrestrial locations. IUE has recently been contracted to provide high resolution land terrain information for a wind farm project on Maui so that site selection can be optimized. The information service can also be used to track current, wind, and temperature data in real time for use with solar and wind energy projects.

Joe Breman’s background is in geospatial technology and oceanography. After completing graduate studies in the marine sciences, he went on to ESRI, one of the largest Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software companies. In addition to his work as a GIS architect with Maui-based company Akimeka LLC, the fast-growing IT solutions company, Breman is an oceanography professor and author of books on Marine Geography and ocean data modeling.

For more information, contact IUE by email at info@oceanglobe.org

Leading the Nation: Hawaii’s Clean Energy Initiative -- and Maui’s Trailblazing Role

As we enter 2009 and a new decade beckons, announcements heralding renewable energy projects have flowed thick and fast in Maui County. Whether it’s a 10-acre photovoltaic farm on Lanai, wind farm projects on Maui and Molokai, a proposed underwater power cable to create an interisland electricity grid, or the introduction of electric cars, these are exciting, cutting-edge times.

A variety of innovative projects will soon be changing the way we live, work, and look at the world here in Hawaii as we witness a new dawn in sources of energy.

Two of the articles that follow in this month’s High Tech Maui describe different approaches to changing the fossil fuel paradigm, our state and nation’s dependence on foreign oil, and the issue of global warming. They describe initiatives to introduce electric cars on a broad scale, and these zero-emission vehicles will be powered by home-grown renewable energy.

Maui County has been leading the way on energy policy, and is positioned to blaze a pioneering trail that will set an example to the rest of the planet. With its steady and powerful trade winds, reliable sunshine, strong currents and ever-present waves – among other natural assets -- Maui is the ideal location to showcase the development of renewable energy technologies and to integrate them on a broad scale.

Following a November 2007 energy conference held on Maui, the County’s Mayor, Charmaine Tavares, announced an imaginative and challenging goal: 95 percent of the County’s energy will come from renewable resources by the year 2020.

Following the conference, the Maui County Energy Alliance was launched to advise the County on strategies to achieve this goal, and working groups made up of volunteer experts and specialists in related fields were established to identify policy recommendations. These experts on Maui agree not only that the Mayor’s goal is achievable, but also that planning must begin in earnest now.

Meanwhile, in January 2008, Governor Linda Lingle announced the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI), an agreement formalized in a Memorandum of Understanding between the State of Hawaii and the Department of Energy. Under the terms of HCEI, at least 70 percent of Hawaii’s energy will come from renewable sources such as wind, sun, ocean, bioenergy, and geothermal by the year 2030. Currently, the state imports fossil fuel to provide more than 90 percent of its energy needs.

Hawaii’s abundance of natural resources and the planned public-private partnerships envisioned by HCEI will be supported by the Department of Energy and the expertise of other Federal agencies such as the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Defense. However, it will be the residents of Hawaii that will be the key players in real and permanent changes that lie ahead.

Making Hawaii A Better Place: Electric Cars Are In Our Future

  Better Place Car

On December 2nd, 2008, the State of Hawaii and Hawaiian Electric Company announced a partnership with the private company, Better Place, to introduce a model for clean energy in transportation: Zero-emission battery-powered electric vehicles. The partnership is just one of the elements that makes up the energy mosaic of the HCEI.

Better Place describes itself as a mobility operator that aims to reduce oil dependence by delivering personal transportation as a sustainable service. The company was launched by entrepreneur Shai Agassi in 2007 with $200 million in venture capital with the goal of building electric vehicle networks powered by renewable energy to provide consumers with an affordable and sustainable means of travel.

Better Place already has agreements to build new infrastructure networks in Israel, Denmark, Australia, and California, and the first visionary projects will become reality in 2010. The company expects its Maui infrastructure to be up and running by 2012, according to the company’s spokesman for Global Development, Pete Cooper.

In a recent presentation made to a working group of the Maui County Energy Alliance, a task force set up by the County’s Office of Economic Development, Cooper explained that the company’s business model calls for consumers to subscribe to transportation as a service, similar to cell phone service today. At the heart of the new paradigm is sophisticated in-vehicle software that constantly analyzes energy levels, capacity, location and range, and can even plan re-charging when off-peak power rates apply.

Cooper also told the group that car manufacturers will make the electric cars that plug into Better Place “smart” charging stations and battery-swap stations. “For example, Renault-Nissan are already developing a line of electric cars for Better Place, and other auto makers are following suit,” he said. A prototype, the Nissan Rogue, made its public debut in Honolulu in December.

Consumers will purchase vehicles (it is expected they will cost significantly less than comparable gas-fueled cars, according to Cooper) while Better Place will own the rechargeable batteries. Consumers will then lease the batteries and purchase the electricity to keep them charged, in the same way that they now buy gas at service stations.

In addition to “smart” charging at home and at stations that will blanket each community, electric car drivers will also be able to switch out depleted batteries at designated Better Place exchange stations. “The batteries, which contain no heavy metals, are designed for a 200,000 mile lifetime,” said Cooper, “and a complete re-charge will take no more than 15 minutes.” The company has already identified a number of exchange station locations that will service Maui County.

The Better Place model makes a compelling example of economic and environmental shift. Electric cars will create new jobs while a sustainable infrastructure benefits the environment and opens up new markets for renewable energy. The troubled auto industry is also expected to benefit from this viable new business.

Best of all, the mega-million dollar outflow from Maui to foreign countries for gasoline and diesel fuel will begin to be substituted by home-grown, renewable sources of transportation energy. “It’s the ideal win-win for everyone,” says Better Place’s Pete Cooper. An additional benefit to the community is that the network of electric vehicle batteries hold the potential for providing the island with an emergency source of power through the “smart” charging interface, should the need ever arise.

Electric Vehicles on Maui – Part 2: Phoenix Rising

  Phoenix Motorcar's Sport Utility Truck

December 2008 was a good month for transportation initiatives on Maui that promise to significantly reduce greenhouse gas and CO2 emissions. Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares and Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle signed a memorandum of understanding between Phoenix Motorcars, the Department of Energy, the State of Hawaii, and the Maui Electric Company (MECO) on a fully electric car project for Maui County.

Under the terms of this innovative public-private partnership, over 20 electric cars are expected by the first quarter of 2009 on Maui so that all phases of testing can be undertaken and data gathered to prepare for a more extensive fleet in the future.

Dan Elliott, CEO of Phoenix Motorcars, remarked, “We strongly endorse the mission of the State of Hawaii, Maui Electric, and the County of Maui to reduce Hawaii’s dependence on imported oil. We are deeply honored to play a role in Hawaii’s Clean Energy Initiative.”

Maui was selected by Phoenix as the first test site in the U.S. because of its leadership role in developing clean energy, confirming the island’s suitability as an ideal demonstration location for high tech and renewable energy projects. Governor Lingle commented, “We appreciate the confidence Phoenix Motorcars has in the Hawaii marketplace and the recognition of our ongoing collaborative efforts to capitalize on Hawaii’s abundant natural renewable energy resources.”

Phoenix Motorcars was created in 2001 and is based in Ontario, California. In pursuing its vision of creating a fleet of zero-emission, highway-speed vehicles, Phoenix has designed and developed two fully electric models: a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), and a Sports Utility Truck (SUT). Both vehicles can travel up to 130 miles on a single 10-minute charge and feature an advanced lithium titanate battery. Top speed for the vehicles is 95 m.p.h.

Following the signing of the memorandum of understanding, MECO will conduct a test program using between 20 and 30 of the Phoenix electric SUTs in their utility fleet. Ed Reinhardt, president of MECO said, ”We’re very interested in testing electric vehicles from manufacturers like Phoenix Motorcars to use electricity generated by renewable resources during off-peak hours, and to determine whether electric vehicles can efficiently store that power and return it to the grid when there’s high demand.”

If all goes well, Phoenix announced their plans to sell their electric cars to consumers by the end of 2009. The company has also expressed interest in setting up an assembly plant on Maui, and is exploring options.

Following a test-drive of the Phoenix truck at MECO’s Kahului facility, Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares remarked, “This is exciting progress in Maui County’s commitment to developing the use of energy efficient technologies. Phoenix Motorcars’ intent to launch on Maui supports our county’s focus to combine renewable energy with economic opportunities to create positive economic and educational benefits for our local community.”

Upcoming events:

Maui TechOhana
Date TBD
Stella Blues in Kihei
Speaker is TBD


Maui Economic Development Board, Inc.
1305 North Holopono Street, Suite 1
Kihei, HI 96753