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Sea Water Air Conditioning in Waikiki

The University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program Center for Sustainable Coastal Tourism has begun work with Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts on a project to study the feasibility of using cold sea water to air condition buildings in Waikīkī. Cold sea water from the deep ocean can be used in air conditioning units, commonly referred to as sea water air conditioning (SWAC), to reduce the need for electricity.

Visit the SWAC in Waikiki website HERE

Rationale/Need: For large buildings and hotels, particularly in tropical climates, air conditioning (AC) represents the single major source of energy demand and cost. Forty-two percent of typical Hawai‘i hotel energy consumption goes toward AC. The potential energy savings associated with SWAC represent a sizable economic incentive while associated greenhouse gas emission reductions have both environmental and economic benefits in the face of state and national carbon regulation. The state is considering two sites in Honolulu for SWAC deployment.  One location is for the downtown district, a project in an advanced stage of planning. The other location under consideration is for the Waikiki district, a site also viewed as potentially providing cooling to Ala Moana, Iolani, Kaimuki, Mo‘ili‘ili, and Mānoa.  The state expects SWAC to significantly contribute to the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative, and is actively seeking to attract financing for the efficient cooling technology.

Goal and Objectives: To provide a comprehensive, independent analysis of implementing a district-wide SWAC system for Waikīkī as compared to business as usual (BAU) and a selection of alternative renewable energy and energy efficiency options. The three objectives are:

  1. A science-based examination identifying potential environmental affects of SWAC, with emphasis on microbial oceanography, biogeochemical cycling (e.g. CO2  exchange), and ecology;
  2. An economic modeling study to determine how critical sectors of Hawai‘i’s economy will respond to energy infrastructure changes associated with SWAC, particularly tourism-related, utilities, and water management sectors; and
  3. A public outreach program that is founded on the objectives noted above as well as, i) an examination of public positions on SWAC and their reasons for support and opposition; and ii) the development of a choice model to examine public preferences and willingness to pay for SWAC development in Hawai‘i.