Canary Island to be powered solely by renewables

The Spanish government has announced that El Hierro, one of the smallest of Spain’s Canary Islands, “will be the first island in the world totally supplied by renewable energy.” The island of 10,500 residents will rely on a combination of hydroelectric and wind power.

“Using this system, we can transform a intermittent energy source into a controlled and constant supply of electricity,” the ministry said of the 54.3 million euro (65 million dollar) scheme which is designed to cut the island’s annual carbon dioxide emissions by 18,700 tonnes.

The island’s wind farm will generate electricity for the pumping station that will pump water to the two reservoirs that feed the hydroelectric stations, which will provide the bulk of El Hierro’s power. Excess wind energy will be used to power two desalination plants. An existing diesel-powered plant on the island will be maintained for emergencies if water and wind supplies run short.

Interior Minister Joan Clos Tuesday said the government would be adopting a range of incentive measures to encourage windfarms. Spain, where the energy market was deregulated in 1998, is second only to Germany in Europe in terms of installed wind power capacity, at 8,155 MW in December 2004, compared with 14,000 MW for Germany.

Live and let live