Greening the Islands Awards candidate: Batteries key to stability of power system in Azores’ shift to renewables
The island of Graciosa in the Azores, an island of just under 4,400 inhabitants, is setting out to demonstrate that batteries can help it reap the benefits of renewable energy sources – thus reducing oil imports and carbon emissions – while ensuring a stable electricity system at the same time.
Graciosa, one of the nine islands that make up the remote archipelago of the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean, is looking to shift from diesel-based power generation to renewables. It has teamed up with Berlin- based company Younicos to develop a solar plant, wind park and battery storage system that will provide about 70% of power demand on the island.
The key ingredient is a 2.5-megawatt storage system. The project aims to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of its lithium-ion titanate battery cells, showing that they can improve the stability of an electricity system characterised by intermittent generation and variations in demand.
The 25 million-euro investment is due for completion at the end of this year and, according to the project director, will be a milestone of the future of renewable energy in the Azores and in all remote places of the world.”
In fact, the entire archipelago is undergoing an investment programme between 2015 and 2019 that will see fuel oil consumption decline by 92,600 tons and slash carbon emissions by 300,900 tons a year. These are critical benefits in a region where tourism represents one of the key sources of economic activity, along with fishing.
Greening the Islands Awards candidate: Wind and hydro join forces for balanced, clean energy supply on El Hierro
In seeking to meet its target of reaching 100% renewable energy, the Spanish island of El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands, is making the most of its natural potential to develop an innovative system that combines wind and hydro production.
The wind-pumped hydro power station is made up of five wind turbines, with total capacity of 11.5 megawatts, and a new pump storage hydro system, created by turning two natural craters into artificial lakes, one almost at sea level and the other positioned on the hillside above, connected by two pipes almost 3km in length.
The beauty of the project lies in its ability to store excess energy from the wind farm in the form of water. In normal, windy conditions, the wind farm serves the local population but extra power is used to pump water from the lower to the upper basin. On less windy days, the hydro system can spring into action.
The new project will mean the current oil-fired power generation system will only be needed in emergencies, saving the island from buying 2 million euros a year in oil.
The “El Hierro, 100% RES” strategy will give the island a reliable and independent supply of energy. That will be important not only for water supply – 40% of electricity produced is used for water desalination and distribution – but also for the development of agriculture and tourism.
The Spanish Regulatory Agency estimates savings of nearly 80 million euros in the next 20 years, to the advantage of the local population since the local authority is fully involved in the investment, operation and management.
Another great advantage of El Hierro’s energy model is that is easy to validate in situ how a project of this kind could be implemented in other places under similar insulated and dependence conditions. It is not surprising that the project has drawn interest from island communities around the world, been studied by local schoolchildren and closely watched by inhabitants and tourists alike.
Greening the Islands Awards candidate: blackouts becoming a thing of the past for Cape Verde thanks to wind farms
Cape Verde, a developing nation of 10 islands off the west coast of Africa, has no significant natural resources and has had to depend on the outside world for most things, including energy. The cost of importing all its oil products for electricity generation – and produce 92% of its potable water needs through desalination of sea water – has had severe impacts on the country’s economy, with power shortages leading to frequent blackouts for its 500,000 inhabitants.
The island is turning this situation round thanks to the construction of four wind farms, which now total 25.5 megawatts and provide about a quarter of the country’s power needs. The project, backed by a public-private partnership (PPP) – the first of its kind in Africa – led to the creation of a local company called Cabeólica, tasked with increasing production capacity from local, sustainable resources.
This 60 million-euro investment has important benefits for Cape Verde. Diesel imports have been slashed by an estimated 16,000 tonnes a year, leading to a saving of $1.5 million in 2013 alone and cutting CO2 emissions by 176,000 tonnes.
Significantly, this renewably sourced electricity costs about 10% less than other available options. The wind farms are located on four islands that account for most energy demand and are home to almost three quarters of the population. They are benefitting from electricity supplies that are now more reliable and power cuts have been reduced, even as demand continues to rise.
Sponsor spotlight: Water depuration becomes sustainable thanks to MegaCivic’s Smart Solar Desalination technology
Separating salt from water is an ancient practise, going back to when salt was a precious commodity. Today, green technologies mean freshwater can be produced from sea, lake, river or brackish water in a way that is not only sustainable but also cost efficient.
The Smart Solar Desalination (SSD) technology, developed by the engineers at Italy’s MegaCivic, is ideal for remote locations such as islands and has been specifically designed for off-grid or hybrid configurations. The Greening the Islands event in Malta will be the perfect chance to get to know SSD better.
Smart Solar Desalination works by using efficient bifacial solar panels, produced by sister company MegaCell, as its main energy source for its reverse osmosis technology. The low production costs allow for freshwater production at costs that are 30-70% lower than conventional depuration systems and benefit from stable long-term production costs, because the system does not depend on fluctuating commodity prices.
The design is smart because it draws on a generation unit, batteries or other hybrid power systems only if necessary and only to ensure a working backup. The result is a water purification system almost always 100% powered by renewable energy sources, keeping the use of diesel or other fossil fuels as well the need for energy storage to a minimum.
SSD is a scalable solution ranging from about 1,100 m3/day to more than 100,000 m3/day of potable water.
Thanks also to low operating expenses, SSD is in most cases bankable. Alongside its turnkey technological offering, MegaCivic can also provide complete financial solutions from bridge, mid-term to ESCo financing models.
Discover MegaCivic’s Smart Solar Desalination system at Greening the Islands (Malta, 29-30 October 2015).