Windswept Spanish island of El Hierro is about to give the world a lesson in Energy security.
El Hierro, in the Canaries, will run off of 100 percent renewable energy by the end of the year, ending the need for oil imports. Its wind and solar energy will be stored by pumping water uphill into an extinct volcano. Water will be released when power is needed.
The island will shortly be powered by an 11.5 MW wind farm and 11.3 MW hydroelectric plant that will generate around 80 percent of the island’s needs, with the remaining 20 percent produced via solar thermal collectors and photovoltaics. Producing local energy reportedly will offset 18,200 tons of CO2 alone due to cutting out oil transport to this remote location. The island is 1,500 miles off the coast of Spain. Aside from being a tourist attraction, it is on the international date line, and boasts and airport and a ferry terminal, both of which will run on local power by the end of 2011.
According to local government sources the project will cost €54 million and is supported with financial aid from the European Union, after lobbying by power conglomerate ABB.
There will be five wind turbines for approximately 11,000 residents, and seasonal tourists, plus three water desalination plants. The hybrid wind/pumped hydro storage system will store surplus wind power by pumping water up 700 meters (approximately 2,300 feet) to fill the crater of an extinct volcano. When winds are calm or when demand exceeds supply, water will be released from the crater to generate 11.3 MW of electricity, filling an artificial basin created at the bottom of the extinct volcano. Water in the lower basin is then pumped back up again to the upper reservoir when there is excess wind power.The closed-loop hybrid wind/hydro system, to be tested by the end of 2011, is expected to save approximately US$4M per year (calculated with January 2011 oil prices) currently spent on about 40,000 barrels of crude oil imported annually, and will make the island completely self sufficient
s control solution “will automatically start releasing water from the upper reservoir to generate power at the hydroelectric plant,” said the local government, “whenever the wind power generated is insufficient to meet demand. Conversely, excess wind power will be used to pump water to the upper reservoir, for use when wind power is low.”
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