The energy transition of islands

Published on Friday, 10 March 2017

The objective to decarbonise economies is global and affects every corner of our planet, even the most remote ones. In this regard, islands are an excellent example: they are remote territories that are relying on solutions to cut emissions in their energy transition toward a more sustainable model.

Eurelectric, the Association that represents the interests of the European electricity industry, has presented a number of sustainable solutions developed on different European islands in its recent report "Toward the Energy Transition on Europe's Island". Among the best practices analysed in the report, five are by the Enel Group. Three of them were realized in the Canary Islands by a company of the Spanish Endesa Group. The first is the result of the STORE project, launched in 2012, which has made it possible to improve the stability of the grid and the quality of the electricity service by installing 1 MW/3 MWh lithium ion batteries on the island of Gran Canaria, a 0.5 MW/18 MWs flywheel on La Gomera and 4 MW/20 MWs ultra-capacitors on the island of La Palma. The introduction of energy storage technologies has made it possible to increase the stability and flexibility of the electricity service allowing the effective integration of renewable energy generation systems.

On La Graciosa, one of the Canary Islands, Enel’s Spanish subsidiary is building a small smart grid to integrate the distributed generation of photovoltaic installations with batteries and ultra-capacitors to balance the energy loads.

On El Hierro, instead, close collaboration with the local municipality and Instituto Tecnológico de Canarias (ITC) made it possible to commission a hydro-wind power station that combines wind and water by integrating these two sources into an innovative renewable energy plant that ensures self-sufficiency with 100% green energy throughout the island.  

The fourth Enel best practice presented in the report regards Mallorca, where the Endesa eCar project has created a capillary and flexible network of charging points for electric cars that allows you to drive around the largest of the Balearic Islands in "zero emissions mode.

The last Enel project cited in the report focusses on storage technologies: a 300 kW/600 kWh lithium battery was integrated into the power plant on the Italian island of Ventotene. The integrated energy storage system allows reducing fuel consumption and emissions and, thanks to the control system developed by Enel, it is able to cover the needs of the entire island during low load hours while keeping the generators off. The integrated operation of the batteries and generators can also reduce their aging and maintenance costs.

The Enel projects presented in this report show how our company is tackling the various challenges posed by smaller islands with specific innovative, sustainable solutions.

The best practices illustrated in the Euroelectric report explain how it has been possible in these areas to improve the quality of the electricity service, while tackling major global challenges and addressing the energy needs of these territories in a sustainable, affordable and reliable way. The report stresses that the specific conditions of these islands entail major constraints for electricity generation. Providing a secure and balanced system for electricity generation and distribution is therefore more difficult and expensive compared to the mainland. That’s why it is crucial to find innovative and sustainable solutions.

In its analysis, by describing the successful experiences already in operation on some European islands, Eurelectric has charted the path for the safe, reliable and sustainable energy transition of these electrical systems throughout Europe.