El Hierro — one of the islands making up Spain’s Canary Islands off the coast of Africa — is nearing the achievement of its goal to be powered 100% by renewable energy, according to reports.
The goal is reportedly only a few months off — with the island’s new wind energy/water turbine battery system (finished earlier this year) by then generating all of the island’s electricity needs of up to 48 GWh per year. Once this is achieved, it will offset the 6,600 annual tons of barged-in diesel that had previously kept the island powered.
While neither the wind energy technology used, nor the water turbine energy storage system used, are new technologies on their own, this is actually the “first” time that they have been combined with each other for a commercial-scale power plant, according to engineer Juan Manuel Quintero, a board member on the project.
A project now collectively known as the Gorona del Viento power plant, it was constructed, altogether, for around $110 million.
Grist provides more:
The plant consists of five big industrial windmills and two lakes. On windy days — and there are plenty — the windmills harness the Canary Islands’ Atlantic gusts. When production exceeds demand, such as at night, excess energy is used to pump water from a sea-level lake up into a natural volcanic crater half a mile uphill.
When the wind dies down, the water is released down through a pipe connecting the two lakes. On its way, it passes through turbines, which generate hydro-power.
Everything is connected with sensors so that within five seconds of the wind dying down, the hydro portion of the plant kicks in. For island residents, the lights don’t even flicker.
The island’s next goal is to be gas-powered vehicle-free by 2020 — thereafter, nothing but EVs and human-powered vehicles.
Image Credit: El Hierro via Flickr CC
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