Island renaissance based on renewable energy production
This social innovation centres around the mobilization of island residents and public and private stakeholders to achieve energy independence through renewable energy production and energy efficiency measures, thus becoming a means to revive island communities.
Reference cases analysed within the scope of SMARTEES: Samsø (Denmark) and El Hierro (Spain).
El Hierro, Spain
El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands, has recently become one of the first isolated territories in the world able to cover its electricity demand in certain periods of the year using 100% renewable sources. El Hierro envisioned a sustainable growth model since the 1980s, and reducing fossil fuel dependence was one of the main objectives of the Sustainability Plan approved in 1997. Following this ambition, the island government constituted the energy company ‘Gorona del Viento’, an experimental wind-pumped hydropower plant, that has been operating since 2015. On average, El Hierro achieved almost 50% renewable electricity in 2017. In the first half of 2018, Gorona del Viento generated 100% of the island's electricity for 1,450 hours, saving 3,700 tons of diesel and 12,100 tons of CO2 emissions.
A strong political consensus and commitment for sustainability, public-private partnership mechanisms, the presence of public incentives and the development of a local network of qualified professionals were among the factors that made a full energy transition to renewable sources possible. Furthermore, El Hierro has become an attractive island to visit for students, scientists and tourists.