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UHERO Brief: An Economic and GHG Analysis of LNG in Hawaii

Hawaii currently meets the majority of its electricity needs through oil-fired generation – causing rates to be nearly four times the national average. In response to rising oil prices and in line with State-led action combating climate change, Hawaii is aggressively pursuing alternative sources of energy for its electric sector. Hawaii’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) states that utilities must meet 40% of electricity sales with renewable sources of energy by the year 2030; however, the remaining 60% can come from fossil fuels. Lower natural gas prices as a result of the “shale gas revolution” is in part why the State and key stakeholders are deliberating importing large amounts of natural gas in liquefied form (liquefied natural gas or LNG) for use in the electric sector.

This study builds upon past Hawaii-based LNG studies and extends the analysis by assessing both the macroeconomic and electricity sector impacts of using natural gas for power generation. We draw upon two recent studies, by Facts Global Energy (2012) and Galway Energy Advisors (2013) for price estimates. In addition to economic outcomes, this study estimates GHG emissions impacts as well as qualitatively discusses other environmental impacts related to the extraction of natural gas.


UHERO BRIEF

 

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An Economic and GHG Analysis of LNG in Hawaii

Hawaii currently meets the majority of its electricity needs through costly oil-fired generation causing rates to be nearly four times the national average (EIA, 2013a). The "shale gas revolution" has led to rapidly declining natural gas prices within the continental U.S. The emergence of a natural gas market that is de-linked from oil prices has renewed Hawaii's interest in natural gas imports. Potentially lower natural gas prices as well as the view that it will help to reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions and increase energy supply security through domestic sourcing are major reasons why the State and key stakeholders are deliberating over importing large amounts of natural gas in liquefied form (liquefied natural gas or LNG). This study uses detailed models of Hawaii's electric sector and overall economy to estimate the impacts of Hawaii importing LNG for use in the electric sector.

WORKING PAPER


The Conversation: Peter Fuleky on the State Forecast Update

UHERO Research Economist and Assistant Professor of Economics Peter Fuleky appears on The Conversation to talk about UHERO's State Forecast Update: Hawaii's Economy in Need of an Engine.

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UHERO State Forecast Update: Hawaii's Economy In Need of An Engine

Posted October 14, 2014 | Categories: Forecasts

Prospects for Hawaii growth remain muted. Despite a pickup over the summer, visitor arrivals have been soft this year, and the period of robust visitor spending increases is behind us. A mixed global economic environment and limited visitor industry capacity will keep a lid on future gains. While the construction expansion continues, it does so at a slower pace than anticipated and has created few new jobs in 2014. The building trades nevertheless remain the most likely drivers of expansion over the next several years.

A summary of this forecast is available as a service to the public. For more detailed analysis, subscribe to UHERO's Forecast Project.

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The Conversation: Carl Bonham on the Annual Hawaii Forecast

Posted August 11, 2014 | Categories: Media

UHERO Executive Director and Professor of Economics Carl Bonham appears on The Conversation to talk about UHERO's latest Annual Hawaii Forecast: Hawaii Growth Slows as Global Risks Rise.

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Annual Hawaii Forecast: Hawaii Growth Slows As Global Risks Rise

Posted August 8, 2014 | Categories: Forecasts

The stall in tourism has slowed the Hawaii economy, and no other sector has yet emerged to provide offsetting stimulus. Construction has been slow to take over as a growth driver, but this will change as we move into 2015. Barring adverse economic developments outside Hawaii, this should be sufficient to support restrained growth in employment and some improvement in household income.

A summary of this forecast is available as a service to the public. For more detailed analysis, subscribe to UHERO's Forecast Project.

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A Hurricane’s Long-Term Economic Impact: the Case of Hawaii’s Iniki

The importance of understanding the macro-economic impact of natural disasters cannot be overstated. Hurricane Iniki, that hit the Hawaiian island of Kauai on September 11th, 1992, offers an ideal case study to better understand the long-term economic impacts of a major disaster. Iniki is uniquely suited to provide insights into the long-term economic impacts of disaster because (1) there is now seventeen years of detailed post-disaster economic data and (2) a nearby island, Maui, provides an ideal control group. Hurricane Iniki was the strongest hurricane to hit the Hawaiian Islands in recorded history, and wrought an estimated 7.4 billion (2008 US$) in initial damage. Here we show that Kauai’s economy only returned to pre-Iniki levels 7-8 years after the storm; though 17 years later, it has yet to recover in terms of its population and labor force. As we document, these long-term adverse impacts of disasters are ‘hidden.’ They are not usually treated as ‘costs’ of disasters, and are ignored when cost-benefit analysis of mitigation programs is used, or when countries, states, and islands attempt to prepare, financially and otherwise, to the possibility of future events.

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In the Eye of the Storm: Coping with Future Natural Disasters in Hawaii

Hurricane Iniki, that hit the island of Kauai on September 11th, 1992, was the strongest hurricane that hit the Hawaiian Islands in recorded history, and the one that wrought the most damage, estimated at 7.4 billion (in 2008 US$). We provide an assessment of Hawaii’s vulnerability to disasters using a framework developed for small islands. In addition, we provide an analysis of the ex post impact of Iniki on the economy of Kauai. Using indicators such as visitor arrivals and agricultural production, we show that Kauai’s economy only returned to pre-Iniki levels 7-8 years after the storm. Today, it has yet to recover in terms of population growth. As an island state, Hawaii is particularly susceptible to the occurrence of disasters. Even more worrying, Hawaii’s dependence on tourism, narrow export base, high level of imports and relatively small agricultural sector make Hawaii much more likely to struggle to recover in the aftermath. By thoroughly learning from Kauai’s experience and the state’s vulnerabilities, we hope we can better prepare for likely future disaster events.

WORKING PAPER


The Growing Importance of Tourism in the Global Economy and International Affairs

For tourism-dependent countries and destinations, tourism’s share of GDP can exceed twice the world average. Today, international tourism receipts exceed $1 billion per year in some 90 nations. Worldwide, domestic tourism is typically several times larger. Tourism truly has become a global economic and social force.

- by Carl Bonham and James Mak

Full Published Article: Bonham, Carl, and Mak, James. "The Growing Importance of Tourism in the Global Economy and International Affairs." Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, 22 July 2014.


Incentivizing interdependent resource management: watersheds, groundwater, and coastal ecology

Managing water resources independently may result in substantial economic losses when those resources are interdependent with each other and with other environmental resources. We first develop general principles for using resources with spillovers, including corrective taxes (subsidies) for incentivizing private resource users. We then analyze specific cases of managing water resources, in particular the interaction of groundwater with upstream or downstream resource systems.

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Groundwater Economics without Equations

In many parts of the world, irrigation and groundwater consumption are largely dependent on groundwater. Minimizing the adverse effects of water scarcity requires optimal as well as sustainable groundwater management. A common recommendation is to limit groundwater extraction to maximum sustainable yield (MSY). Although the optimal welfare-maximizing path of groundwater extraction converges to MSY in some cases, MSY generates waste in the short and medium term due to ambiguity regarding the transition to the desired long-run stock level and failure to account for the full costs of the resource. However, the price that incentivizes optimal consumption often exceeds the physical costs of extracting and distributing groundwater, which poses a problem for public utilities facing zero excess-revenue constraints. We discuss how the optimal price can be implemented in a revenue-neutral fashion using an increasing block pricing structure. The exposition is non-technical. More advanced references on groundwater resource management are also provided.

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The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Watershed Management

Efficient management of groundwater resource systems requires careful consideration of relationships — both positive and negative — with the surrounding environment. The removal of and protection against “bad” and "ugly" natural capital such as invasive plants and feral animals and the enhancement of “good” capital (e.g. protective fencing) are often viewed as distinct management problems. Yet environmental linkages to a common groundwater resource suggest that watershed management decisions should be informed by an integrated framework. We develop such a framework and derive principles that govern optimal investment in the management of two types of natural capital — those that increase recharge and those that decrease recharge — as well as groundwater extraction itself. Depending on the initial conditions of the system and the characteristics of each type of natural capital, it may make sense to remove bad capital exclusively, enhance good capital exclusively, or invest in both activities simultaneously until their marginal benefits are equal.

WORKING PAPER


Optimal Joint Management of Interdependent Resources: Groundwater vs. Kiawe (Prosopis pallida)

Local and global changes continue to influence interactions between groundwater and terrestrial ecosystems. Changes in precipitation, surface water, and land cover can affect the water balance of a given watershed, and thus affect both the quantity and quality of freshwater entering the ground. Groundwater management frameworks often abstract from such interactions. However, in some cases, management instruments can be designed to target simultaneously both groundwater and an interdependent resource such as the invasive kiawe tree (Prosopis pallid), which has been shown to reduce groundwater levels. Results from a groundwater-kiawe management model suggest that at the optimum, the resource manager should be indifferent between conserving a unit of groundwater via tree removal or via reduced consumption. The model’s application to the Kona Coast (Hawai‘i) showed that kiawe management can generate a large net present value for groundwater users. Additional data will be needed to implement full optimization in the resource system.

WORKING PAPER


The Conversation: Carl Bonham on the County Forecast

Posted May 23, 2014 | Categories: Media

 UHERO Executive Director and Professor of Economics Carl Bonham appears on The Conversation to talk about UHERO's latest County Forecast: Despite Lull in Tourism, County Expansions Continue.

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UHERO County Forecast: Despite Lull in Tourism, County Expansions Continue

Posted May 23, 2014 | Categories: Forecasts

Moderate economic expansion will continue in each of Hawaii’s counties. Last year’s tourism weakness continued in the first quarter of this year, and incremental gains for 2014 will be slight. Beyond this year, available capacity will limit further visitor industry growth. The construction expansion has proceeded further on Oahu than the elsewhere in the state, but it is also poised to contribute growth momentum to all counties going forward. In the broader economy, job growth will continue to bring down unemployment rates and will set the stage for a return to more satisfactory growth in personal income.

A summary of this forecast is available as a service to the public. For more detailed analysis, subscribe to UHERO's Forecast Project.

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