The Pipe at Keahole Point

Most of the land at Keahole Point was formed in 1801 by the Huʻehuʻe lava flow from Hualālai. This flow extended the shoreline out an estimated 1 mile, adding some 4 km² of land to the island.[3] The southern part of this point is sometimes referred to as Kalihi Point.

In 1974  the Hawaii State Legislature created the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii, NELHA, on 322 acres of land at Keahole Point. The natural energy lab is a state agency that operates Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park in Kailua-Kona, adjacent to one of the steepest offshore slopes in the Hawaiian Islands. Perfect for a deep water intake pipe.

“It’s quite fascinating,” War said. “When you get below 700 feet, it’s a totally different world. Lots of fish have heads like a fish and a body like an eel. There are fish floating in a vertical position, with the head up, and don’t move unless they’re disturbed.” At 3,000 feet below sea level, the pitch-black conditions are completely unfamiliar to most, but riveting to scientists who have had the opportunity to submerge.

The pipeline, which sucks up cold, deep-sea water for the tenants of the natural energy lab was attached to the lower anchor and then lowered to the bottom in approximately 701 m (2300 ft) of water.

Keahole Point, being the western most point of the island of Hawaii, frequently has strong currents. The 100 year design currents are 2.9 m/s (9 ft/s) at the surface, 1.3 m/s (4.2 ft/s) at 152 m (500 ft) and .4 m/s (1.3 ft/s) at 305 m (1000 ft) and below.

In addition, the pipeline has been designed for a 100 year storm wave at 14.5 m (47.5 ft) ft high at 18 seconds in the open ocean. Extreme wave and current events have been combined to yield a 100 year maximum load expected on the pipeline. In the shallow water, the pipeline loads are wave dominated and in the deep water they are current dominated.