By José Villa, Senior Editor
Hawaii Hispanic News
HONOLULU, Hawaii — In December 2011, Mr. David Gomez, Director of Energy, Trade Commission of the Embassy of Spain in Los Angeles, CA, contacted our DBEDT (Department of Business, Economic Development and Trade) office. He proposed organizing a trade mission for the purpose of meeting key stakeholders and exploring commercial renewable energy opportunities in Hawaii.
It would be similar to missions to other states interested in Spanish investments. On January 23 and 24, 2012: Mr. Gomez; his supervisor Mr. Jorge Sanz Oliva, the L.A. Spanish Embassy’s Trade Commissioner – and representatives from four
Spanish renewable energy developers and contractors – had meetings scheduled with representatives from the relevant
These agencies include the: Hawaii State Legislature; DBEDT; High Technology Development Corporation; Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation; Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture (a project of the Pacific Internat ional Center for
High Technology Research); Hawaiian Electric Company; Public Utilities Commission; University of Hawaii; City and County of Honolulu; Foreign Trade Zone No. 9; Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii; and U.S. Department of Energy.
The four Spanish companies on the trade mission are seeking to:
1) expand upon current investments on existing projects in Hawaii;
2) establish manufacturing/assembly operations or renewable energy generation facilities here: and/or
3) explore investment opportunities in Hawaii.
I was invited to attend their meeting with Jim Tollefson, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, and some of the
chamber’s board members. I also accompanied the Trade Mission members during their meeting with State Senator Michael
Gabbard, Chair of the Senate’s Energy and Environment Committee; and Denny Coffman, Chair of the House’s Energy and Environmental Protection Committee.
After the latter meeting, I sent out an email to my Hispanic community “Latin Posse” list inviting members to join us for
dinner at Soul De Cuba.
I picked the team up at the Ala Moana Hotel and about 10 community members had dinner with them. We had Latinos and
Latinas from six different Latin nations. They included: an attorney; some realtors; some UH Spanish language professors,
including a Spaniard and the department chair; and a Native Hawaiian renewable energy expert.
SDC owner Jesús Puerto was able to spend some time with the members and gave them each some of his “secret sauces.” The team had a great time. They said they sincerely appreciated the warmth of our Hispanic community here. I think they left with a very favorable impression, not only of our renewable energy stakeholders, but also of our Hispanic community.
Trade Commissioner Sanz Oliva said: “Our Embassy’s commercial office staff, as well as the Spanish businessmen that trade mission, consider the visit a success. The agenda created by the DBEDT Energy Office was excellent. It not only provided our team a comprehensive view of the existing renewable energy sector in Hawaii, but also included a vision of where the sector is headed in the next few years.”
He went on: “The mechanisms for the expanding the use of renewable energy in the U.S. are very different from those used in Europe. These types of visits are invaluable in: identifying the key players; helping to understand the existing promotional systems; and evaluating the investment opportunities available in each territory.”
Sanz Olvia continued: “Overall, we can say the potential for the use of renewable energy in these islands has increased due to the high price they pay for the oil they use to create electricity. However, the integration of various fluctuating energy sources – like wind or solar – in not easy in an electrical grid as isolated and small as Hawaii’s.”
He added: “Aside from the size difference, Spain has similar problems, not only on the Iberian Peninsula, but also on its
insular territories – the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands – as well. In spite of these limitations, 38% of the electricity consumed in Spain comes from renewable energy sources. For that reason, we are confident the experience of Spanish companies can be very useful in Hawaii.”
Initial Trade Mission members were: Embassy of Spain, Trade Commission, Jorge Sanz, Trade Commissioner, David Gomez, Director, Department of Energy Gestamp, Pablo Otin, VP Business Development, Gestamp Solar Steel USA plans to build a large manufacturing headquarters in Arizona; Gestamp Solar is also developing a large-scale Photo Voltaic project in California. Gestamp Aestym North America has retained local counsel in Hawaii.
GPTech, Juan Carlos Pereira, Business Development Manager, Develops inverters and other equipment to improve energy efficiency and production.
Grupotec, Manuel Folgado, Managing Partner,Largest rooftop Photo Voltaic installer in Spain. Markets in France, Italy, United Kingdom, and USA SolarPack, Jose Galindez, CEO / Tomas Parlade, VP, Developed 7+ large Photo Voltaic projects in Spain; manages investments in Photo Voltaic projects.