Hawaii Biodiesel Data

Biodiesel plays small, but significant, role in state’s electricity market
By Erin Voegele | July 15, 2011

Data recently released by the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism demonstrates that biodiesel is beginning to play a role in the state’s energy mix. The report addresses energy usage through May.

The monthly report states that more than 4.4 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity were generated from biodiesel during March. The year-to-date level as of that month was more than 8.1 million kWh. To put that number in perspective, more than 131.5 million kWh of electricity were produced using petroleum-based diesel in March, with the year-to-date level for that fuel reaching more than 404 kWh. Those numbers seem to indicate a great deal of growth potential for biodiesel use in the state’s electricity market in the future.

It is also important to note that more electricity was generated by biodiesel in Hawaii this year than by wind and hydro power systems. In fact, just more than 2 million kWh of electricity was generated by those renewable fuel sources during March. The year-to-date total was just under 5 million kWh.  
The report also addresses other aspects of in-state biodiesel use. According to data released by the department, Hawaii consumed 11,274 barrels of biodiesel in March. To put that in perspective, the state consumed more than 752,000 barrels of traditional diesel oil fuel during the same month. The year-to-date use for biodiesel and diesel oil this year is estimated to be a respective 23,777 barrels and 652,576 barrels.

The report also indicates the price per barrel of biodiesel was significantly higher than traditional diesel oil. The average cost of a barrel of biodiesel during the month was $168.52. This is roughly $50 higher than the $117.73 average price of diesel oil during the same period. The price of biodiesel was lower than the average price to date for all of 2011, however, which the report estimates to be $186.97.

The per-barrel price differences between diesel oil and biodiesel during the month translate into higher costs to produce electricity via biodiesel use. The data shows that the cost of diesel oil per kWh of electricity generated is nearly 25 cents. In comparison, the cost per kWh for biodiesel was nearly 48 cents.

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