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Remote and Island Communities Reap the Benefits of Renewable Energy


Wind turbines, just a small part of Burlington, Vermont's 100% renewable energy solution.Islands and remote communities are in a tough position. Their infrastructure and transportation rely on oil, but their location makes ensuring a steady supply of reasonably-priced fuel a challenge.

That’s why many of these communities have turned to renewable energy as the price of the technologies drop. The Rocky Mountain Institute recently released a report profiling several communities around the world that have transitioned to renewable energy and are glad they did.

Communities that are isolated or in hard-to-reach places often have difficulty securing the fuel needed to meet daily energy needs; weather and other factors can delay delivery and once the oil finally arrives, it can be extremely overpriced due to the extra effort needed to get it there.

For instance, El Hierro, part of the Spanish Canary Islands, recently started generating all of its electricity using a combination of wind power and pumped hydro storage using a volcanic crater. The agricultural community is home to 11,000 residents.

The second-largest island in the United States, Kodiak, Alaska, has also experienced the benefits of renewable energy after they built a 75,000 kWh microgrid comprised of wind farms, hydro turbines, a lead-acid battery and a flywheel. Together, 99% of Kodiak’s renewable energy comes from these sources, which allowed them to build a bigger shipping-dock crane to help the local fishing industry prosper.

Kodiak, AK now saves $4 million on energy every year and their 13,000 residents’ electricity rates have fallen by 3.6%.

As Greentech Media reports, author of the paper Sarah Hawley believes that these unusual communities won’t be able to lower storage costs but their strategic and technical planning will guide many successful projects in the future.

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