Spanish island to be powered solely by renewable energy

A Spanish island in the Atlantic Ocean is set to become the first island in the world to be powered solely by renewable energy.

Located about 1,500km off the Spanish coast in the Atlantic Ocean, El Hierro is the smallest and most remote of the Canary Islands, an archipelago of Spanish islands and one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations.

Like many remote islands, El Hierro presently generates electricity with diesel oil transported from mainland terminals by oil tanker. The carbon impact is significant — in El Hierro’s case it amounts to 18,200 tons of CO2 per year in power-generation emissions alone.

Now, however, a new 11.5MW wind farm and an 11.3 MW hydroelectric pumped storage plant will provide the island’s 11,000 inhabitants with 80 per cent of their energy needs. The remaining 20 per cent will be generated by solar thermal collectors and grid-connected photovoltaic systems.

For its part, ABB is playing a lead role in the project by providing a power and automation solution that will electrify and control the hydroelectric pumped storage plant, and integrate the energy generated by wind and hydropower turbines into the island’s grid.

The Greek island of Icaria is already building a hydro-wind project modelled on El Hierro, and the power industry as a whole is following the project closely with an eye to larger-scale implementation.