Water and Wind Energy
A total of five wind turbines are to be installed by the end of June on El Hierro, an island with an area of just 107mi². The turbines, which will be installed at the northeastern tip of the island, will be able to produce a total output of 115.5 megawatts – plenty of energy for the islands 10,000 inhabitants and the desalinations plants. Officially named Gorona del Viento, the wind farm will eventually account for 100% of the island’s energy. The use of wind and hydro energy should eliminate carbon emissions by 18,700 tons annually. This will also end the island’s annual oil demand of 40,000 barrels per year. Excess power from the turbines will be used to pump fresh reservoir water to a second reservoir at a volcanic crater 700m above sea level. When wind lacks, the water will then be released down to the lower reservoir and into turbines to generate electricity. This method will always guarantee a supply of electricity. For true emergencies, El Hierro plans to keep its current oil power station. The cost for the transfer to 100% renewable energy is estimated at 65 million euros. Revenues generated from the wind farm are estimated at three million euros annually. Government officials from other islands have already shown interest. This project will hopefully set a trend for the rest of the world’s islands, which are home to more than 600 million people.
Sustainability does not stop at Wind Energy
El Hierro does not want to stop at wind and water electricity. The island is also striving to assure that its 6,000 vehicles are run on 100% electricity, which should be made possible after a deal with Renault-Nissan. Once the wind farm is paid off, island residents might even be able to refuel for almost no cost, since the operation costs of a wind farm are relatively low. Moreover, additional revenues from the wind plant can be used for the residents to subsidize water, infrastructure and other policies on the island. As a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, 60% of El Hierro’s land is protected to preserve its natural environment. Officials hope the green trends on El Hierro will draw in tourists, although mass tourism such as that seen on the neighboring islands is undesired.