VERGE Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit

As the first state with a mandate for 100 percent renewable generation, Hawaii is the hotbed for energy and technological innovation. VERGE Hawaii takes a pivotal role in connecting people from all sectors – public, private and nonprofit – to share lessons, discover creative solutions and work together to bring about a clean energy future in Hawaii and beyond.

Like the previous years, the summit was held once again at the Waikiki Hilton resort. The venue is gorgeous, equipped with stately event halls, ocean-side views and ample auxiliary rooms to facilitate the many different presenters for the three-day extravaganza. Hawaii State Energy Office is a key conference partner, and because of that relationship, a number of registrations are allotted to HSEO. When I received the email that I was registered to attend, I was stoked.

Is it really a clean energy conference without a Tesla in the showroom?

The theme of this year’s summit revolves around capturing solutions to meet Hawaii’s first-of-its-kind target. Key questions include:

  • What lessons have the state’s decision-makers, influencers and communities learned since committing to these pivotal goals?
  • Which technologies, policies and partnerships will enable it to achieve this?
  • How can others from around the world learn from and help accelerate Hawaii’s groundbreaking clean energy transition?

With registration procedures all finished up and my floral patterned dress shirt tucked, I steered towards the escalators toward the first breakout session: a workshop led by HSEO that draws ideas and feedback from attendees on different approaches of pricing mechanisms of Hawaii’s electric market. The attendees were diverse, including participation by employees from Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO), the state’s electric utility. With coverage across so many different topics under the energy umbrella, the hardest part was actually choosing which to go.

Lunch was served with a heated discussion on alternative transportation, which was followed by fruit custards and round-table activities designed to harvest ideas from all those who chimed in. It was here that this fact became evident to me: food is a great motivator for engaging, but dessert is even better. Breaks were spent talking dirty about renewable energy development on contaminated sites, and anecdotally, most developers showed remarkable interest in this largely untapped resource. That’s enough validation I need to motivate me going forward.