It may be the smallest of Spain’s Canary Islands, but it has huge ambitions: El Hierro will become the world’s first land mass to be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy when its wind farm opens at the end of June.
The wind farm with five turbines will have a total output of 11.5 megawatts, which will be enough power to meet the demands of the island’s 10,000 residents, reports the UK’s Daily Mail. Surplus power will be used to pump fresh water from a reservoir near the harbour to a larger one located 700 metres above sea level inland. On days when there is not enough wind to generate electricity, the water from the inland reservoir will be channelled through turbines to generate electricity.
What makes this project all the more exceptional is that El Hierro has no connection to any outside electricity network. “This system guarantees us a supply of electricity,” said Juan Manuel Quintero, director of the $100 million Gorono del Viento wind power plant, who was quoted in the Daily Mail article.
Initially, the plant will meet half the island’s electricity demand when it first opens, but that will be increased to 100 per cent over the coming months, explains the Daily Mail. The island’s renewable energy scheme will cut 18,700 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year and eliminate its annual consumption of 40,000 barrels of oil.
IRENA, the international organisation for renewable energy, hails El Hierro as a “pioneering project”, and the project is sparking interest from other islands seeking to follow its example, reports the Daily Mail, including Aruba, Hawaii, Samso in Denmark, Oki in Japan, and Indonesia.
Photo credit: Erik Streb/Creative Commons