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Potential Benefits, Impacts, and Public Opinion of Seawater Air Conditioning in Waikïkï

This report provides a summary of an investigation by the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program into the viability and effectiveness of installing a seawater air conditioning district cooling system in Waikīkī. Seawater air conditioning (SWAC) harnesses the cooling properties of cold seawater to provide cool air for air conditioning purposes. In doing so, SWAC reduces the amount of electricity needed for air conditioning. SWAC is particularly relevant to Hawai‘i for two reasons: first, the proximity of deep, cold, ocean water to areas of high population make Hawai‘i an obvious location for implementing the technology; and secondly, with approximately 90% of its electricity generated from fossil fuels, Hawai‘i is the most fossil fuel dependent state in the nation. Unlike the rest of the U.S., where coal, natural gas, and nuclear power are called upon to meet a substantial proportion of the electricity demand, Hawai‘i relies heavily on residual fuel oil (the by-product of refining crude oil for jet fuel, gasoline, and other distillates). As a result, Hawai‘i has very high electricity prices compared to the rest of the country. SWAC has the potential to both cut the cost of air conditioning and reduce the amount of harmful emissions that are released as a by-product of generating electricity from fossil fuels.

Seawater air conditioning works by pumping cold (44-45°F), deep (1,600-1,800 feet) seawater into a cooling station (Figure 1). Here, the cold seawater is used to chill fresh water flowing in nearby pipes. The chilled fresh water is then piped into hotels for cooling purposes while the seawater (slightly warmed to 53-58°F) is pumped back into the ocean at a shallower depth (120-150 feet).


Preferential Trade and Welfare with Differentiated Products

We consider analytically and numerically the welfare tradeoffs inherent in a preferential trade area (PTA) with products differentiated by region of origin. For a small open economy in such a setting, welfare gains are associated with higher trade volumes within the PTA. However, welfare losses are induced by declining tariff revenues on trade with nonmember countries. We show that both effects are concave, while one is a non-monotonic and the other a potentially non-monotonic function of pre-PTA partner trade shares. Therefore, the relationship between initial partner import shares and direct static welfare impacts of a PTA are theoretically ambiguous. This finding contrasts with conventional results in the homogeneous-goods case, whereby the smaller is the pre-agreement trade volume with a potential partner the more beneficial is a PTA.


Limits to Growth: Tourism and Regional Labor Migration

The paper provides a methodology for considering the carrying capacity and limits to growth of a labor-constrained mature tourism destination. A computable general equilibrium model is used to examine the impacts of visitor expenditure growth and labor migration on Hawaii's economy. Impacts on regional income, welfare, prices, sector-level output, and gross state product are considered under alternative migration scenarios. Labor market constraints impose limits to growth in real visitor expenditures. Labor market growth with constrained visitor demand generates falling per capita household welfare.  

working paper


Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Hawaii: Household and Visitor Analysis

This paper focuses on petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions associated with economic activities in Hawai‘i. Data on economic activity, petroleum consumption by type (gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, residual, propane), and emissions factors are compiled and analyzed. In the baseline year 1997, emissions are estimated to total approximately 23.2 million metric tons of carbon, 181 thousand metric tons of nitrous oxide, and 31 thousand metric tons of methane in terms of carbon-equivalent global warming potential over a 100-year horizon. Air transportation, electricity, and other transportation are the key economic activity responsible for GHG emissions associated with fossil fuel use. More than 22 percent of total emissions are attributed to visitor expenditures. On a per person per annum basis, emission rates generated by visitor demand are estimated to be higher than that of residents by a factor of 4.3 for carbon, 3.2 for methane, and 4.8 for nitrous oxide.

The full publication can be found at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140988309001133 

Analysis of Introduction of Plug-in Electric Hybrid Vehicles to Honolulu

The primary aim of this study is to understand the benefits and barriers which might be associated with the introduction of PHEV technology to Hawaii. This analysis illustrates that PHEV’s represent a much larger and more pervasive strategic opportunity than is generally appreciated in the State. Specific interests that guided our research were:

  • To estimate the impacts which relatively modest PHEV penetration rates might have on Hawaii’s GHG emission and fuel substitution goals.
  • To determine whether PHEV’s could be introduced to Hawaii without triggering major generating capacity additions.
  • To consider whether PHEV’s might play a role in optimizing the use of renewable wind resources that might otherwise be un-usable.
  • To assess the role of PHEV’s in the Hawaii’s attempt to control GHG emissions.

UHERO project report

Targeting Hawaii Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions: Emission Forecasts and Their Implications for Act 234

Act 234 calls for the state of Hawai‘i to return its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Under a business as usual environment, we forecast Hawai’i’s 2020 emissions to be between 18 and 34 percent above 1990 levels. Since transportation and electricity account for about 75 percent of Hawai’i’s GHG emissions, most likely a large share of the reductions will need to come from these sectors for Hawai’i’ to comply with Act 234.

Uhero project report

Energy and Greenhouse Gas Solutions: Hawai‘i Greenhouse Gas Emissions Profile 1990 and 2005

In an effort to effect national and global climate change policy to address the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, the Hawai'i legislature passed the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2007, Act 234. Act 234 calls for Hawai'i to return its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Here we report an inventory of emissions for the state for 1990 and 2005, and forecast emissions growth out to 2020.

Uhero project report

Planning for Sustainable Tourism in Hawai‘i: Economic and Environmental Assessment Modeling Study


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