Alternative fuels and vehicles have become more available since the "National Energy Policy Act" required Federal agencies, State governments, and electric and gas companies all across the U.S. to purchase alternative fuel vehicles.
Soon, even more vehicle fleets will be using alternative fuels. State and fuel provider fleets are increasing their purchases of alternative fuel vehicles. City and County governments and large corporations may be required to purchase alternative fuel vehicles beginning in 2002.
Vehicles are available; automakers (for example, Daimler-Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan, Solectria, Toyota, and U.S. Electricar, to name a few) are already producing and selling alternative fuel vehicles. Researchers and engineers are excited about the new technologies, cleaner fuels, and better vehicles.
Fueling stations are already here, and more will soon follow. A network of "rapid charge" electric vehicle charging stations has been announced for Oahu, propane fuel is available on all islands, biodiesel is available on Maui, and alcohol fuel production could happen soon.
Still, most people are not aware of the reasons for switching to alternative fuels, the differences between the fuels, or even that these fuels and vehicles exist!
There are several good reasons to be excited about the fuels, vehicles, and opportunities today and in the future: the new alternative fuels are good for the environment, can provide new jobs and high-tech industries for Hawaii, and offer interesting research opportunities.
For example, some Hawaii companies are worldwide leaders in developing new electric vehicles and electric vehicle technologies! Cutting-edge development work by Hawaii companies is being funded in part by the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the United States Government and by the State of Hawaii.
Hawaii is also a national leader in the production of biodiesel fuel from vegetable oil – and the Maui company that produces it is also marketing the production process overseas.
For over twenty years, important research on renewable fuels, including biomass and hydrogen, has been conducted in Hawaii at the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research, and the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center. Their work has contributed to success in diversified agriculture that will help Hawaii to recover from recent closures of sugar and pineapple operations. And byproducts (or waste) from diversified agriculture, forestry, and other sources, could be used to produce alternative fuels!