The transportation sector is Hawaii’s biggest energy consumer by a factor of more than 2-to-1 compared to the second largest sector, industrial. This is largely due to heavy commercial and military aviation fuel use.
Hawaii has America’s most expensive electricity, costing roughly 50% more any other state.
Hawaii features a unique energy ecosystem due to its geographic isolation. More than 2,400 miles of ocean separate the state from the nearest ports in Alaska and California. This remoteness presents a significant energy challenge, as none of the Hawaiian islands contains fossil fuel reserves. Hawaii thus relies heavily upon imports of petroleum (from Pacific Rim producers) and coal (from Indonesia) for power. As a result, the state has by far the most expensive electricity prices in the country and some of the highest motor fuel prices, as well.
More than 80% of Hawaii’s energy and 70% of its electricity comes from petroleum, making it the most petroleum-dependent state in the nation. But solar energy represents a growing resource that many individual users are tapping into. Rooftop systems are used by 12% of Hawaiian homes—by far the highest proportion in the nation. In total, renewable sources—including solar, wind, biomass and geothermal generators—supply 10% of the state’s electricity.
Each of Hawaii’s six main islands has a self-contained electrical grid. These grids are not linked together by undersea cables, and each island must generate its own power.
Proposals have been put forward by private companies to create a unified grid that would enable shared renewable energy development. Critics, however, question the economic benefits of a connected grid and highlight the potential environmental damage that could occur when laying cables across vulnerable marine areas.
Hawaii's two refineries are both located in the Honolulu port area and can produce a broad range of refined products.
Hawaii has commercial-scale solar systems on Lanai, Oahu, Kauai and Maui. Utility-scale electricity generation from solar energy increased nearly six-fold in 2013.