Governor Lingle names Darren to Innovation Council

L-R (Darren T. Kimura, Chairman Ron Higgins, Governor Linda Lingle, Co-Chairman Jay Shidler)

Lingle names 18 to Innovation Council

August 30 – “You are the best of the best, and I am counting on you to help lead the way in increasing innovation in Hawai`i,” Governor Lingle said at the first meeting of the Hawai`i Innovation Council.

Established by the Governor through an Executive Order on June 1, 2007, the Hawai`i Innovation Council will serve as the principal advisory group to her Administration on innovation policy issues, as well as specific measures and actions that the state can take to improve Hawai`i’s innovation capacity.

“Studies that outline the criteria for suitable environments for innovation show that Hawai`i is a perfect place for it.” Karl Hess, a member of the National Science Board.

The 15-member council is co-chaired by three nationally-recognized entrepreneurs who are Hawai`i residents or part-time residents. They are Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com; Ron Higgins, president and CEO of RSHF, LLC; and Jay Shidler, founder and managing partner of The Shidler Group.

The Council will meet on a quarterly basis to discuss and assess progress, and make recommendations on Hawai`i’s innovation policies and programs; coordinate with state, federal, county and private sector organizations to increase the positive economic impact of Hawai`i’s innovation assets and resources; and provide a forum for ideas to enable Hawai`i to become a global leader in innovation and technology research, development and product creation.

Three entrepreneurs will be co-chairmen:

* Mark Benioff, chairman and CEO of salesforce.com and a part-time Big Island resident.
* Ron Higgins, president and CEO of investment management firm RSHF LLC.
* Jay Shidler, founder and managing partner of The Shidler Group of Honolulu.

Other council members are:

* Taft Armandroff, director of the W.M. Keck Observatory on the Big Island.
* Kirk Belsby, vice president for endowment for Kamehameha Schools.
* Dan Berglund, president and CEO of the State Science and Technology Institute, a nonprofit based in Ohio that helps states and communities build tech-based economies.
* Richard Brill, a professor of physical science at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.
* Darrel Galera, principal of Moanalua High School.
* Debra Guerin-Beresini, CEO of International Venture Fund, which has been doing business in Hawaii for 17 years.
* Karl Hess, board member of the National Science Foundation & Policy Advisors to the U.S. President and Congress.
* Leigh Jerome, director of The Institute for Triple Helix Innovation, a nonprofit based at UH-Manoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine.
* Darren Kimura, president and CEO of Sopogy Inc., a Hawaii-based solar energy company.
* Karen Knudsen, chairwoman of the Hawaii State Board of Education.
* Mark Lindsay, teacher at Iolani School and organizer of its For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics team.
* Mark Loughridge, president of Aloha Island Inc., a Honolulu-based video game and software-development company.
* David McClain, president of the University of Hawaii system.
* John Rand, director of Kapiolani Community College’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program.
* Patrick Sullivan, founder, chairman and CEO of Oceanit, a Hawaii-based science and engineering company, and president and CEO of Hoana Medical, a company that makes medical devices.

Darren receives award as Hawaii’s first Green Entrepreneur of the Year

August 28, 2007

Actor Jason Scott Lee speaking at Hawaii ‘green’ event

Advertiser Staff

Actor Jason Scott Lee will give a keynote address at the inaugural “Who’s Keeping Hawai’i Green” event sponsored by Hawai’i Home+Remodeling, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Moanalua Gardens. He also will receive an award.

The project involves local partners — businesses and individual — who are environmentally conscious of keeping Hawai’i “green.”

Awardees will include: Maui County Recycling Program WasteWater Reclamation Program, Hawaiian Mahogany, Kona Brewing Company, ProVision, Hawaiian Earth Products, Gentry Homes, Ferraro Choi and Associates, Lincolne Scott Inc., Dowling Company Inc., Dev Braganza of Hunt Development Group, The Green House, Betty Gearen, Ma’o Organic Farm, Jason Scott Lee, Gail Grabowsky of Clear Fuels; Darren Kimura of Sopogy & Energy Industries; and Chuck Burrows for the lifetime achievement.

Darren in Hawaii Business Magazine

12 People with 12 Big Ideas

 

Energy
Daren Kimura
President, CEO and Chairman of Sopogy Inc.

There is no one technology that will solve all that ails us.

But if we take wind and combine it with photovoltaic and hydro-generation, and combine that with traditional generation, now you have gotten ourselves into a situation where the cost of generation goes down because we are no longer tied to fossil fuels and we have a reduction in greenhouse gases.

There are things in place to get us there. The state has enacted what’s called a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which put a mandate on the utilities that a percentage of their generation come from renewable resources Ð 20 percent by 2020 is the goal. The challenge is that our RPS is not defined as in other states. For instance, most utilities give their consumers the opportunity to pay a penny or two more to buy their power from green energy sources. That penny or two more then goes back to the green energy project developer to help incentivize the development and expansion of his project. That option is not available here yet. Because it all starts with money. Once you have the capital available, anything is possible. You can build a large wind farm. You can build solar farm.

It also takes having the early adopters come into the market and take the risk and demonstrate the model. The entrepreneurs. And having some of the more prominent leaders do something about it. When you have one or two successful demonstrations of how the model works, it is easy for everyone to say, “Hey these guys did it, let’s do it.” We also need public awareness, because the public can apply pressure to the government, the utilities and the Public Utilities Commission.

If we can figure out a way to insulate ourselves and lower energy costs, we stand a better chance as a society of giving people a better way of life. Maybe people can cut back on that second job and spend more time with their kids. This is the kind of thing that drives me. ÐAs told to SR

Darren in Hawaii Tribune Herald

Thursday, August 9, 2007 11:03 AM HST

CEO of renewable energy firm found his calling at an early age
by Bret Yager
Tribune-Herald Staff Writer
 

 

 Darren Kimura learned early to use his imagination.

Growing up in Hilo, the emerging renewable energy entrepreneur didn’t have much entertainment to distract him.

“A lot of successful business people come from Hilo,” he said. “The key about Hilo is you go out and make something happen.”

Kimura, 32, is president, CEO and chairman of Sopogy Inc., which the state in June approved for $10 million in special purpose revenue bonds for a new solar farm power plant in West Hawaii.

Kimura has been passionate about renewable energy since his teen and college years. He spent that time founding two energy and communication companies and teaching computers to Waiakea Intermediate School faculty.

And Kimura intends, in a modest way, to take over the world, applying the “make it happen” philosophy to a 15-hour work day that centers entirely around renewable energy, infants and home life.

He used to surf at Honolii. Surfing was one of the first things to go. He doesn’t watch TV or go out to movies anymore.

“It comes down to priorities,” he said. “Always the most important thing to me has been my family, and business. Anything that doesn’t fit into that is no longer around.”

 
 

Kimura founded Energy Industries when he was 19. Fourteen years later, the energy solutions company is on the cutting edge of renewable energy research and engineering, with 12 offices and more than 200 employees in the U.S., Guam and Hong Kong.

Kimura founded Energy Laboratories in 2000 to expand and diversify Energy Industries. He describes the company as a place where energy innovations can incubate until they are ready for the market. The company has more than 20 such concepts in incubation and has turned nine others into multi-million dollar companies geared at solving energy problems.

The top earner garners $50 million in annual revenue. All of the companies started in Hawaii.

Kimura attended Waiakea High, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he studied business, and Portland State University, where he studied electrical engineering. He started Energy Industries here in Hilo while on summer break from Manoa.

From there, Kimura’s resume of start-ups begins to resemble that of a tycoon. In 1996, he created Energy Conservation in Hawaii; in 1998, Pacific Energy Services; in 2000, eCONTROLS; in 2001, EnergySmart; in 2003, Lighting and Electrical Company; in 2004, Facility Solutions. In 2006, he acquired Quantum Lighting and Quantum Energy.

Kimura lives on Oahu now, but both he and his wife, Kelly, are from Hilo. Kimura attended Waiakea Intermediate School, where he was a computer geek. He remembers enjoying the contact with nature: Camping, hiking, fishing and scouting. He wasn’t an exceptional student, he says. He attributes his success to what he calls “laser beam focus.”

After all, you have to eat your Wheaties if you want to wean a state of its dependency on foreign oil. Kimura sees that as a personal quest.

“I want energy independence for Hawaii,” Kimura said. “It’s a big task, and I want to do it in my generation. We’re 89 percent dependent on foreign oil.”

Sopogy Inc. today offers new concentrated solar power collectors to generate electricity and air conditioning, industrial steam and agricultural drying, with the potential for creating drinking water from evaporated sea water along the way. Kimura is still working to shrink the technology down to where it can be used by individual households.

“The markets we can go after now are the larger businesses and utilities,” he said.

Kimura’s new 3,000-reflector solar farm, under the name Keahole Solar Power, will be built on six acres at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority in Kona. Capable of producing a megawatt of electricity and powering 500 homes, the $8 million project will likely be online by July 2008, Kimura said. The farm will be able to produce electricity about 25 percent more cheaply than conventional means, he said.

Keahole Solar Power is in the design phase, about a month away from breaking ground if its permits come through.

“The good thing about solar is it’s typically a lot faster to construct; you’re dealing with traditional metal, glass and concrete, and you’re not dealing with rare or toxic materials,” Kimura said. “This is a good project and we want it to happen as soon as possible.”

In addressing climate change, energy security and sustainability, Kimura can’t say enough about solar. Its production cycle meshes perfectly with the human use cycle, he says, and on the sunny west side of the island, solar is very cost effective, even if it’s less so in the rainy and cloudy east side climate.

Kimura said the Big Island’s efforts at geothermal and wind-powered ventures are a step in the right direction. But with fossil fuels dwindling and global warming looming, renewable energy is not just an option, but a growing imperative to Kimura.

“Renewable energy is good for the environment, the pocketbook and society,” he said. “These are the kinds of things we have to do now. The incentives are there. There is no better time to go green.”

Bret Yager can be reached at byager@hawaiitribune-herald.com