Feb 14, 2013

Kauai CC Takes One Step Further Towards Sustainalbe Food Production

Kaua`i Community College has “just done something we’re not aware of anyone else doing within the University of Hawai`i system – connecting a photovoltaic system with a battery back-up system to our Aquaponics Program learning facility,” announced Helen A. Cox, Chancellor. Why is this important? It makes the program grid-independent and fully capable of producing its own electricity to operate its entire system. Installation of the system is near completion and will be unveiled Friday, February 15, 2013, at 9:00 am at the College’s Aquaponics Program site.

The initiative was supported, in part, by a $30,000 grant from the Kaua`i Economic Development Board (KEDB), through funding provided by the Hawai`i Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) via the state’s Act 73 and its Hawai`i Economic Development Task Force.

“We are grateful for the confidence in us and endorsement from KEDB,” said Chancellor Cox.

“KEDB is thrilled to support renewable energy and energy efficiency field training. It is hoped that projects like this will lead to more ‘green jobs’ opportunities here on Kaua`i, said Mattie Yoshioka, KEDB’s President and CEO.

Eric Knutzen, leading Kaua`i CC’s Ho`ouluwehi: The Sustainable Living Center of Kaua`i, stated that “our students can now gain experience working with an aquaponics food production system which is energy independent. With the grant from KEDB and partnering with Dm Briggs Electric, photovoltaic installing company, we’ve now diligently brought to fruition an ‘off-grid’ aquaponics system. Much appreciation to so many, who helped make this happen both administratively and practically.”

“This is a tremendous advancement for our Kaua`i CC students to gain first-hand, hands-on learning experience with one of the lowest cost, highest efficiency food production methods which, when coupled with PV and batteries, exemplify how the protein and vegetable food needs of so many can be satisfied without the need for on-grid electrical connectivity,” explained Knutzen.

Dylan De Pue of Dm Briggs Electric shared that, “It has been an honor to work with Kaua`i CC in its endeavor to provide these practical learning platforms. It’s very exciting to be a part of helping in this effort to train Kaua`i CC students in progressive aquaponics food production--now with renewable energy electrical supply!”

Aquaponics is a sustainable food production system that combines traditional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. Systems vary in size from small indoor or outdoor units to large commercial units.

Contact Eric Knutzen, Executive Director, Ho`ouluwehi: The Sustainable Living Institute of Kaua`i, Kaua`i Community College, 651-6300, 245-8388, knutzens@hawaii.edu.

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