Island Energy Solution

SUBHEAD: The El Hierro project will demonstrate that it is possible for islands to achieve energy independence. By staff on date unknown in Insula - El Hierro (http://www.insula.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=22) Image above: Operating windmill on Nantucket Island built in 1746. From http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/tLjzvbv-xMl2nK4SLPzADA
With 276 km² and more than 10,000 inhabitants, El Hierro is the smallest island of the Canary archipelago ( Spain ). The island has its own electricity grid; it is totally isolated as the significant sea depths make any interconnection impossible. Till a little time ago , the electricity demand, which accounts for about 65% of the internal energy consumption, was mainly covered by a conventional thermal power station (10MW diesel-fired system). The contribution of renewable energies to the electricity grid was less than 5% and came from two wind turbines installed close to the main town (100 kW and 180 kW). The island has a large renewable energy potential, mainly wind, and decided to implement a 100% Renewable Energy Sources (RES) project for its supply. The latter is a key issue of the “Sustainable Development Plan” defined in 1997 by the Island Government of El Hierro and has became even more relevant since El Hierro was declared a “World Wide Reserve of Biosphere” by UNESCO in January 2000. Objectives The bet on a strategy aiming at the attainment of a 100% RES island already appears within the Sustainable Development Plan of the island, supported by UNESCO, which defends an advanced concept of Biosphere Reserve as an insular development model and laboratory. The Reserve is characterised by a high degree of participation of the local population in the strategic decisions affecting development, where energy options are linked to the productive model, to the integral exploitation of endogenous resources, and to population's quality of life. In the continuity of this approach for sustainable development, the main objective of the El Hierro project is to meet the energy demand of the island using a 100% RES strategy. Other objectives were also identified and consist of: • Demonstrating that RES integration is a way of providing 100% of the energy supply on isolated islands • Demonstrating that the synergies between different RES can contribute greatly to increasing RE penetration into weak grids in isolated areas • Demonstrating that the storage of energy in water form is the most economic way to store energy • Optimizing the available potential of RES by using them together in integrated systems for local power supply • Demonstrating and widely disseminating the benefits of innovative and integrated renewable energy solutions for islands Actions in focus In order to reach the objectives of the project, 3 different programs are to be implemented: • The Energy Saving Program • The “100% RES for Electricity Production” Program • The Transport Program (gradual conversion from Fossil Fuels to Clean Transport) With the financial support of the DG TREN of the European Commission, a consortium of 7 partners, coordinated by ITC (Instituto Tecnol√≥gico de Canarias), are carrying out a project that focuses on the “100% RES for Electricity Production” program. During the first phase, the program aims to meet 70-80% of the electricity demand of the island by means of several activities. The most innovative one will consist of the implementation of a Wind-Hydro Power Station (WHPS), with the target of covering 75% of the island's electricity demand and achieving 30% direct wind penetration into the grid. As the set objective can only be reached by the integration of several RES, the following activities are also in focus: • Implementation of a Solar Thermal Energy Program • Implementation of a PV Roof Program • Implementation of a Biofuels Program During the first phase, an important part of the project is devoted to the construction and monitoring of the Wind-Hydro power station on El Hierro, but also to feasibility and economic studies for the development of similar Wind-Hydro power station, initially on Crete and Madeira and later, on other islands worldwide that are appropriate for the replication of the system. On a less technical level, tasks such as the integration and involvement of the island population (acceptance of the system), socio-economic research and knowledge sharing will be implemented... “Wind and water: the perfect synergy” With great ascents and high wind energy potential (Trade Winds), El Hierro proves to be a very suitable place for the implementation of a Wind-Hydro power station; it is also the first Wind-Hydro power station that will be providing close to 80% of the electricity demand of a totally isolated area. The major advantage of such a combination is that the system can overcome the usual problems of discontinuity and power fluctuation caused by the intermittent characteristic of the wind resource. When the energy produced by the wind farm exceeds the demand, the surplus is used to pump desalinated water in a reservoir situated 700 m above sea level. Conversely, if the energy produced by the wind farm is insufficient to meet the demand, the water stored in the upper reservoir is released through the turbines to a lower reservoir, converting the potential energy of the water into electrical energy. In this way, thanks to the potential energy storage and the controllable power output of the hydro turbines, it is possible to establish a stable grid in terms of frequency and voltage, where the production matches the demand at any time. As the water-energy binomial is an essential aspect of the sustainable development strategy of the island, the system also includes a water desalination plant, not only to fill the reservoirs and compensate for the evaporation losses but also to produce water for irrigation and domestic use. It has been estimated that a maximum direct wind energy penetration into the grid of 30 % could be achieved. Until now, no isolated island (weak grid) has had such a big direct wind contribution. Therefore, the island will be a study of grid stability issues and the results will contribute to defining the real limit of wind penetration. As well as the Canary Islands, all isolated islands, in Europe and worldwide, could benefit from the results of this experience. see also: Island Breath: Sustainability on Kauai 11/13/07 Island Breath: Our First Sustainability Post Post 1/4/04

3 comments :

jonathan jay said...

hurrah for las canarias!

perhaps Kaua`i will muster the wisdom to follow this promising lead.

lala said...

Thanks for your post and welcome to check: here
.

Bill Walsh said...

One thing about this type of effort, the motivation is there to see the problem solved.

In the new world of sustainable energy, many times the efforts are driven by government programs and other initiatives trying to drive some form of sustainable energy platform.

But when the core motivation and need is not as strong, it will be hard to perfect lasting change that is economically feasible.

The process of the Island energy solution will be interesting to watch and learn from as it would appear to me this is one initiative that will have to stay the course and provide a real solution to the problem, from which others can then learn from

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