Many of the world’s islands rely on diesel generators for their electricity. That not only makes the power produced expensive, it means filling the skies over some of the most pristine places on earth with the crud that belches from the exhaust pipes of diesel engines — including the fine particulates that cause so many human health issues.
As renewable energy costs plummet, more and more islands are turning to them to replace their diesel generators. Renewables usually mean wind and solar, but in the Canary Islands, just off the northwest coast of Africa, a wave power facility is about to be installed.
The Canary Islands lack one very important resource — fresh water. Much of the power that comes from diesel generators today is used to run desalinization plants to supply the islands with clean water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. In addition to 2 million residents, the islands attract up to 15 million tourists every year. No water equals no tourists and no economy.
Seabased, a Swedish wave energy company, is working with Infocom Connect from the United Arab Emirates to construct the first wave energy installation in the Canary Islands. It will produce 5 megawatts of power, most of which will be used to run the desalinization plant. If successful, future wave energy facilities could supply power to the local utility grid.
“I am deeply invested in the future of the Canary Islands and am excited about the potential of wave energy in this area,” says Oscar Sanchez, executive director of SBH Hotels and Resorts, one of the largest private companies in the islands. His family also owns the largest desalinization plant. “We have slightly less than 3,000 square miles of land mass and it makes perfect sense to get our power from the waves. I see enormous potential of using wave energy not just for specific projects, like desalination, but ultimately to provide power for hotels and the grid itself, which should be less expensive than fossil fuels.”
According to Renewable Energy Magazine, Øivind Magnussen, CEO of Seabased, states, “This project in the Canaries represents a great opportunity that could be replicated and scaled.” John Crawford, managing director of Infocom Connect agrees. “We were looking for renewable energy companies that could serve very specific markets. Wave energy is ideal for many of these markets and Seabased is a leader in this emerging industry. They have an impressive technology and track record. I look forward to many more joint projects in the future.”
The United Arab Emirates has recently committed $50 million to the UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund and is working with Belize, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia to bring renewable energy to the Caribbean basin. If only the United States would do as much for the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.