Africa continues to build on the Canary Islands Renewable Energy know-how
In recent years, African governments have adopted and implemented Renewable Energy (RE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) policies as well as national programmes to promote the investment and development of the necessary infrastructure.
For instance, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), active since 1975, has sought out other models to follow. The European Union’s (EU) experience has shown that regional integration can be a useful tool when adopting and implementing RE&EE policies and national incentive programmes.
In their particular search for economic development and technological infrastructure for water, power and energy supply in remote areas they have found support in the expertise of the Canary Islands (Spain), an outermost region of the European Union (EU) with similar energy challenges.
Like many isolated areas in Africa, the Islands endure some of the most difficult challenges. Their size and isolation means they pay extremely high energy costs for imported fossil fuel-based electricity generation, which is often unreliable. Yet, many islands are blessed with large amounts of sun, wind and water, making renewable energy a promising solution.
These limitations and conditions have led the Canary Islands to push boundaries and develop their own energy systems with the help of the Canary Islands Institute of Technology (ITC), a well-known research, development, and innovation center. Through the ITC, the Canary Islands have become a major partner of ECOWAS, backing energy policies, which provide efficient, reliable and competitive energy sources to ECOWAS’ member states.
Located on the edge of the continental shelf, the Canary Islands also offer a singular environment and climate as well as Scientific and Technical Infrastructure for marine research, development and innovation. The construction and operation of an offshore platform, the PLOCAN, is one of its most unique elements. With a surface area of 23 km2 and up to 600 m deep, it offers stable oceanic operations and safe access to the deep ocean. The region’s ideal wind and maritime conditions, and its 15MW capacity can help many companies develop new power generation technologies, such as wave energy converter prototypes.
Both its strategic location and its world-class infrastructure suggests that the Canary Islands, a region well acquainted with the opportunities and constraints of the African continent, are set to play a key role as a natural R&D laboratory to aid African development.
Not only are the Islands a natural laboratory for the development and optimization of scalable renewable energy systems, they also have ample experience developing projects in Africa. Furthermore, 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 astronomy, biotechnology, biomedical research and marine technology.