Jul 8, 2011

El Hierro: The 100% Renewable Energy Island

El Hierro the smallest of the Canary Islands, recently announced an ambitious plan; to become the world’s first island completely powered by 100% renewable energy sources.

Image Courtesy Cestomano

El Hierro imports around 40000 barrels of crude oil for its energy needs, which results in the release of around 18,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year.

According to The Huffington Post, El Hierro will be powered by an 11.5 MW wind farm, an 11.3 MW hydroelectric storage plant, and grid-connected photovoltaic systems. The Swiss-Swedish power company, ABB, will control the hydroelectric power plants, and integrate the power generated into the island’s grid. The hydroelectric storage plant will store excess energy by using it to pump water into the crater of an extinct volcano, which will automatically release water to generate energy whenever wind power is deemed insufficient. When wind power returns, excess energy will be used to pump water back into the upper reservoir for future use.

This ambitious project is planned to be completed by the end of 2011, and will cost $87 million.

The success of this project will require not only the foresight of environmentalists, but also the consistent enthusiasm of the inhabitant of El Hierro, and the continuing support (financial and technical) of ABB. We should try to follow in their footsteps, starting now, if we want to pass on to our children a world in which they can live and breathe without the fear of greenhouse gasses.