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Green energy for islands
The islands are home to about 11% of the world's population - more than 730 million people
The energy systems of the islands, regardless of their geographic location, have much in common. Most often they are isolated from large electric grids and depend on imports of traditional fuels. Energy distribution on the islands is expensive, and the sales market is small and does not allow achieving a "economies of scale". As a result, the final cost of electricity in such systems is much higher than on the mainland. For example, on the islands of the Caribbean, where electricity is generated primarily using diesel generators, its price is one of the highest in the world - about the order of 0,4-0,6 a dollar for 1 kWh.
The use of fuel oil as the main energy carrier poses threats to the fragile ecosystem of the islands. In addition to harmful emissions into the atmosphere, black oil generation is associated with the risk of oil pollution by oil products. A similar incident occurred in 2001 year, when a tanker was transported to a bank, transporting fuel oil for one of the Galapagos Islands, which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Then in the sea hit dozens of tons of diesel fuel.
Of the island states, Iceland is the best-known example of the widespread use of renewable energy. A country with a population of more than 300 thousand people provided 100% of electricity consumption through geothermal and hydropower and is currently negotiating with the UK to combine power systems for the sale of "green" energy.
Among small islands, the primacy of the transition to full energy supply from alternative sources belongs to the Danish island of Samson. In 1997, as part of the "Energy 21" initiative, the Danish government decided to implement a pilot project - to make one of the islands non-volatile due to renewable energy sources for 10 years. A contest was announced for the best offer, in which four islands and one peninsula took part.
In addition to the Danish Samson, the most famous projects for a full transition to "green" energy were realized on the Canary Island of El Hierro and the islands of Tokelau in New Zealand.
El Hierro is the smallest of the Canary Islands. The island with a population of 10 thousand people is planning to become completely non-volatile by the end of 2014, when a wind-wave power plant with the capacity of 11,5 MW will start operating there. The project is implemented by a consortium consisting of the Spanish company Endesa (Enel), the island's government and the Institute of Technology of the Canary Islands. In addition to reliable and uninterrupted power supply, an environmental effect should be achieved in the form of a reduction in CO2 emissions per 18,7 thousand tons per year. It is planned that the revenue from this power plant will increase the island's budget by 1-3 million euros per year. The funds received will be invested in the water supply system, as well as in infrastructure and social programs. If successful, the El Hierro experience is planned to be extended to other islands in the Canary archipelago.
The project, which cost 7 million dollars, has already been recognized as successful. He allowed to solve a number of environmental, economic and infrastructural issues. So, the savings on the purchase of diesel fuel amounted to more than 0,8 million dollars per year for the whole island. And if earlier electricity was supplied 15-18 hours per day, now the power supply became uninterrupted. Currently, Tokelau is considered by experts as a model for the Pacific region. The problem of Tokelau remains the climatic conditions, which negatively affect the mechanisms of the generators, as well as the complexity of the electricity distribution system. The population is spread out over three atolls, communication between them is difficult, and this creates risks for the reliability of energy supply.
A large-scale renewable energy project is being implemented in the Republic of Mauritius. An island with a population of about one and a half million people is forced to import fuel oil, coal and other traditional fuels to ensure 75% energy consumption. In 2008, the state program “Mauritius is an island of sustainable development” was adopted there, one of the stages of which was the construction of the largest island solar power plant with a capacity of 15,2 MW (commissioned in February 2014 of the year). In addition to the reduction of annual emissions of CO15 by 2, the project will be a significant step in saving the budget for the purchase of fuel and increase the reliability of energy supply.
His experience can also come in handy in Hawaii, where electricity tariffs are the highest in the US. The cost of electricity there is two times higher than in the mainland states. A promising source of green energy in Hawaii can be wave energy: in 2014, the US announced plans to invest 10 million dollars in researching the possibilities of this type of energy. The pilot project will be launched off the coast of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, which in itself is a pilot project for implementing RES and Smart Grid networks.
The introduction of renewable energy is facing other problems. In particular, small islands find it difficult to find funding for this, and local people may block projects. Some residents of Ireland and Scotland oppose the development of wind generation, firstly, because the construction spoils, in their opinion, the landscape, and secondly, because it is carried out without coordination with local communities.
Sometimes there are absolutely unexpected obstacles. So, in 2013 in the North Sea, near the coasts of Germany and the Netherlands, the largest European object "Riffgat" was built, consisting of 30 coastal wind generators with the capacity of 108 MW and costing 400 million euros. After the construction was completed and the connection to the grid was started (using the 50-kilometer submarine cable), many World War II mines were discovered in the sea. For cleaning, special equipment was required, which became available only six months later and in addition turned out to be expensive - 6 million euros per month. The irony is that the turbines must rotate even when they are not connected to the grid, and now their operation is provided by diesel generators. As a result, the object consumes electricity instead of producing it.
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However, the number of such projects is growing every year and changing the lives of people, companies, cities and even entire states. "Green" energy is practically an alternative direction for the development of islands that want to preserve their ecology and provide residents with reliable energy supply. Trust in it is growing due to successful experience and a growing number of such projects.