Sea Water for Honolulu Air Conditioning

Here’s a neat, practical idea: Honolulu is going to draw in sea water for air conditioning. The system “will reduce Hawaii’s consumption of oil by some 178,000 barrels a year and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 84,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.”

These are small sums, but if lots of coastal cities did this all around the world, and on a bigger scale than now envisioned in Honolulu, it would make a substantial impact.

And what if the suction system could be driven by wave energy?

15 Responses

    • Oregon has cautiously begun to test and install wave energy technology up and down our coast.

      What if Hawaii starts drawing in low level radioactive water due to Fukushima? Too far fetched?

  1. Ok it is an improvement. I have to wonder however why people in Honolulu need AC in the first place. I have always heard that Hawaii is the land of eternal spring time. Was the claim that Hawaii has the world’s best climate just empty propoganda?
    Would it not save even more if the Hawaians do as most of the world does and just open their windows and let the breeze come in. In thier case a fresh sea breeze.
    Will people die if they do not have AC in Hawaii? They will die if they do not have heat in Buffalo NY or in Duluth-Supirior in the winter time. Not to mention the Russian heartland.

  2. But what’s the impact on the seawater? What will this do to Hawaii’s near-shore sea life? Generally, any process that filters or changes the balance of sea water in near-shore areas will make the water inhospitable to the creatures that live there. Could lead to coral reef die-off. We should certainly look at the research on this before getting all excited.

  3. Are the potential risks of drawing in seawater for air conditioning when water used at Fukushima I is being dumped back into the ocean?

    Also, it’s definitely beneficial to resort to alternative means of energy production, especially when the solution is as simple as using seawater.

    But to connect this to global affairs and the civil unrest sweeping the Middle East and North Africa, what do you see as the overall impact of this shift from fossil fuels? Particularly in the case of China which has shifted so dramatically toward the development of renewable energy projects.

    It would seem logical that a lack of dependence on resources from the region would allow countries to focus on state issues without international interference since there would not be an emphasis on preserving regional stability for the sake of maintaining the oil supply. What do you see as being the potential economic impact on the region? Would it erode the financial clout of those who forcibly rule in the region?

    Especially in the case of Saudi Arabia which depends on its control of oil to elevate its position on the international stage, how would this decline in oil consumption effect Sunni monarchies where Shi’ite majorities exist in the coming 30-40 years?

  4. Burton Hurton, you’re funny. I’m glad to see that the Hawaii Visitor’s Bureau has done its job of spreading the image of paradise, which Hawaii is, so please come visit and spend lots of money. Most homes in Hawaii do simply open their windows. The trade winds are a great air conditioning, but the trade winds aren’t around all the time, although most of the time, and other times the warm winds come up out of the south, and when there’s no wind, it gets hot, and besides, it’s a tropical sun which’ll toast you in any clime given the chance. The area in the proposal is downtown Honolulu with it’s modern landscape of skyscrapers. Honolulu is a major U.S. metropolis with a million inhabitants. If you want to insure paradise on your visit, plan your stay mostly on the outer islands–Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. You won’t be disappointed. Usually, it’s the best weather on the planet.

    There was a project once where they pumped cold water from the depths to create a cycle with warm water from the surface which turned a turbine and created electricity. I don’t know whatever happened to that project. I think there was some environmental impact concern in that one.

  5. Water from Lake Ontario is already being used to cool buildings in down town Toronto. The potential for using the thermal differential in the oceans of the world is tremendous and has not been given enough consideration. See for more information.

    • Sheeshhh….get with it guys, all this is is district cooling (which by the by can be reversed and used for district heating)- simple concept, instead of using thousands of AC’s or heaters you simply supply it in bulk via a hot (or cold) piped water system. Chicago and Hong Kong have been using this for decades for their CITIES. What you require is lots and lots of water – which BTW is simply recirculated through the system – it’s not necessarily dumped back into anything – you do however loose a lot of the water to evaporation. It has high initial costs (after all you are building it for a city, not a building) which is why it has been slow to develop. The technology however has been around for ages.

      • Our residential neighborhood of 100 houses is contemplating common geothermal heating/cooling. I’m doubtful it will actually happen because initial costs. The proposals (from students at the U) aren’t done yet, so we’ll see.

  6. Cornell University did this on a smaller scale some years ago. Cayuga Lake is very deep and its bottom is 35 degrees year round.

    I read a recent report that Japan has the wold’s 2nd or 3rd highest potential for geothermal. You have to wonder why they are using plutonium-based reactors.

    Ultimately a lot of the “problem” with energy is conservation. Interesting Lawrence Livermore graph on energy consumption. Most is wasted, no surprise.

    First link is a blog post, second is the graph

    link to

    link to

    The LLNL graph refers to “wasted energy” as “rejected energy”. Orwellian double-speak is alive and well.

    As we can all infer, the corrupt politicians are doing absolutely nothing about this mess, it only gets worse and the clock is ticking.

    • Not so Orwellian, actually. The rejected energy is rejected mostly because of inherent limitations on the thermal efficiency of the machinery and,though engineers struggle mightily to increase efficiency, the laws of physics are not subject to negotiation.

      To term it “wasted energy” is to suggest that it could be easily recovered, which is definitely not the case

  7. An inspiring story from a small town in Germany. The citizens took over the grid and now produce power, mostly renewable, for 100,000 people. They did not want a nuclear future. It took 25 years and a change in policy that allowed people to buy power from anywhere and to co generate their own power.

    link to

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