The people of the small Spanish island of El Hierro, located on the western edge of the Canary Islands, will soon have have real a reason to be happy. El Hierro will become the world’s first island powered by 100% renewable energy sources. According to the planners, the electric cars will not be missing from this island.
Currently, the island emits around 18,200 tons of carbon dioxide per year. This is one reason why El Hierro has decided to make use of what it has plenty of: sun, water and a dormant volcano.
Initially, such an idea had been proposed in 1986. The project combines solar power, wind energy and hydroelectricity. Regarding the last one, the energy will be generated from five turbines located on the island’s northeastern coast that will pump water up to a height of 2,300 feet into the crater of a dormant volcano.
When there’s no wind blowing, the water will be released through four hyroelectric turbines back into the original source basin that is located near the coast. The upper basin is able to hold about 556,000 cubic meters of water. The “pumped hydro storage” costs $87 million and would be managed by Swiss engineering company ABB.
Together, the 11.3-megawatt hydroelectric plant and the 11.5-megawatt wind farm will provide 80 percent of the island’s energy needs, enough to power the homes of 11,000 residents and three desalination plants. The remaining 20 percent will be also generated by photovoltaic solar panels and solar thermal collectors.