El Hierro becomes first isolated territory powered 100% by renewables and won “Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency” award in the “Greening the Islands” event
“Greening the Islands” is an international event showcasing energy, water and transport projects that have been implemented on islands and remote locations around the world. A broad range of projects competed in a variety of categories, such as Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Transport, Water and Public Awareness Campaigns. Among them, three projects have been selected as winning entries. The Spanish island of El Hierro - the smallest of the Canary Islands – and Malta stood out over other participating locations like Cape Verde, Tonga, the Azores, and Tilos in Greece.
El Hierro won the “Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency” category with an innovative combination of wind and hydro-electric power to become the first Island to run on renewable energy 100%.
Gonzalo Piernavieja, a jury member of the ISLENET - Network of European Islands for Energy & the Environment said: “We received very innovative projects, which could, potentially, be replicated worldwide. In particular, El Hierro's wind-pumped hydro-electic power station, in the Canary Islands, is an excellent example of a public-private partnership. It also demonstrates how appropriate the Islands are as laboratories for sustainable energy technologies.”
The strength of El Hierro’s project lies in its ability to store excess energy from its five wind turbines in the form of water. This is because the hydro-electric power plant was created by converting two natural craters into artificial lakes. In normal, windy conditions, the 11.5-megawatt wind farm serves the local population. The extra power is used to pump water from the lower to the upper basin and on less windy days, the hydro-electric system can spring into action. With this new project, the current fossil fuel power generation system will only be needed in emergencies, saving the island € 2 million a year in fuel.
The Canary Islands are a world-class natural reserve. Few places in the world can boast all the conditions needed for developing and testing modern renewable energy and water technology, as well as astronomy, biotechnology, biomedical research, marine technology. The archipelago combines all these exceptional conditions, attracting some of today’s most advance telescopes and technologies