Island's Sole Power Sources: Wind, Water

Spain's El Hierro will be completely self-sufficient

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 28, 2014 2:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – El Hierro, the tiniest and most southerly of Spain's Canary Islands, is surrounded by no small amount of volcanic activity, but it's turning to the power of wind- and water-driven energy for 100% of its 10,000 inhabitants' needs. In a move that would make it the world's first island to be fully self-sufficient, Phys.org reports that El Hierro will open up a five-turbine wind farm at the end of June. It's going to augment those turbines by using their surplus power to pump water from a harbor-level reservoir to a volcanic crater at 2,300 feet above sea level; on a wind-less day, water will stream downhill through turbines to generate electricity. "This system guarantees us a supply of electricity," says the wind farm's director.

Lauded as a "true novelty" by one expert, El Hierro is getting interest from officials in Aruba, Hawaii, Indonesia, and more. Its hybrid system guarantees "a stable production of electricity that comes 100% from renewable energy, overcoming the intermittent nature of the wind," says the expert. And while it's true that El Hierro is cutting the cord to any outside power network, it will maintain an oil power station—just in case. (More island news: Thousands of albino California kingsnakes are plaguing the Canary Islands.)

Volcanic activity in the sea off the Canary Island of El Hierro  is seen in this photo on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011.
Volcanic activity in the sea off the Canary Island of El Hierro is seen in this photo on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011.   (AP Photo/Canary Islands Government)
Las Playas. El Hierro, Canary Islands.
Las Playas. El Hierro, Canary Islands.   (©)
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