NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - With the launch of a new wind farm in June, the smallest of Spain’s Canary Islands is expected to become the world’s first island to rely solely on wind and water power for its energy needs, according to a report in Think Progress.
The island of El Hierro, westernmost in the Canary Islands chain, will use five wind turbines and pump-storage hydroelectricity to produce power for its 10,000 residents and the desalination plants that provide their water.
The wind turbines will produce 11.5 megawatts of power. Wind power will pump water into a reservoir in a volcanic crater about 2,300 feet above sea level, the report said. When the wind isn’t blowing, hydropower will be produced by releasing water from the volcanic crater into a lower reservoir, a process called pump-storage hydroelectricity.
The wind power project, estimated to cost about $110 million, will free El Hierro from reliance on diesel generators for power, although the island will keep an oil power station available in case of emergency power needs, according to a report in Phys.org.
The island also plans to convert all of its 6,000 vehicles to electric power by 2020 under an agreement with the Renault-Nissan alliance.
Revenues from the wind power plant, 60 percent of which is owned by the island, are expected to boost El Hierro’s annual income by between one and three million euros, or between about $1.4 million and $4 million.
El Hierro has been designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO with 60 percent of its land, or about 107 square miles, protected to preserve its natural diversity.