West Hawaii Today – “Name that Solar Farm”

Name that solar farm; vote online Public may vote from among 8 finalists for favorite Hawaiian name
by Carolyn Lucas
West Hawaii Today
Thursday, June 18, 2009 9:32 AM HST

Sopogy Inc. recently challenged students enrolled in Konawaena High School’s Hawaiian studies program to create a name and slogan that best fits the 1 megawatt solar farm constructed at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii in Kona.

The public can now choose from among eight finalists and vote until noon July 1 for a favorite online at keaholesolarpower.com. The author of the winning slogan and name will receive a cash prize. The favored selection will also be used in connection with the solar farm and announced at its upcoming dedication, but all suggestions submitted by the students will be preserved.

Darren Kimura, Sopogy president and chief executive officer, was impressed by the submissions, which he called fantastic, thoughtful and inspiring. Kimura studied the Hawaiian language two years at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and felt the participating students captured the essence of what the solar farm was about.

The solar farm, near Queen Kaahumanu Higway, uses a new kind of solar concentrator for generating electricity from the sun’s heat. The MicroCSP technology, resembling large silver troughs, uses mirrors and lenses to concentrate the sun’s rays on fluids, creating steam that turns turbines to generate electricity. It is capable of powering 500 Hawaii homes and offsetting a quantity of carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to removing about 256 cars from the road.

Konawaena High was chosen for the challenge because it was the first high school team to complete in the World Solar Challenge in 1990, said Zeina Jafar, Sopogy spokeswoman.

Sopogy wanted to involve residents in the process of creating the slogan and naming the solar farm because “this is not a big corporate project; it’s owned by the locals.” The company felt it was important to include the viewpoint of young people, who will be the next generation of leaders, Kimura said.

“We wanted the youth to be an active part of the process and know they can make a difference in energy and global climate change,” Kimura said. “These students are teenagers and will see the benefits of this technology over the next 25 years. When they’re in their 40s, hopefully they feel proud about contributing to this project’s history.”

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