“Smart” energy systems for clean islands
Business File, November-December 2017, No. 113
The EU’s new “clean island” initiative aims at reducing pollution caused by diesel power plants on islands that are not connected to the national grids of member-states. A political project backed by the European Commission, it will promote and support the development of “smart” energy systems for some 2,400 islands scattered across
the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Caribbean. As the EU country with the highest percentage of island residents, Greece will bene t from adopting integrated systems using renewable sources to generate electricity and “smart” micro-grids for distribution. One such project, on Tilos in the southeast Aegean, is already nearing completion.
By Kerin Hope
Fourteen EU states with a total of are seen as potential frontrunners for New jobs and business opportunities 15 million island residents (Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Sweden) and the European Commission have signed up to the “clean island initiative.” A forum is being established to share ideas on promoting “smart” and “green” solutions and build a framework to at- tract technical expertise backed by private investment and EU funds. Islands are seen as potential frontrunners for the transition.
A sizeable increase in the production of renewable energy and energy storage systems is needed to reduce imports of fossil fuel, resulting in better energy security for islands, according to com- mission o cials. At the same time, air quality would be improved and green- house gas emissions reduced, lessening the impact on the natural environment.would be created, giving a boost to island economies.
40 islands in Greece
In Greece the “clean island” initiative will speed the development of renew- able sources of energy on more than 40 islands with some 1.5 million residents that lack interconnections to the main- land grid. Their dependence on ageing diesel generators and submarine cable links with neighbouring islands that frequently break down would gradually be reduced. Some smaller islands would become self-su cient in electricity pro- duction, while the cost of supplying others would be sharply reduced.
Greece pays around 850 million euros annually to subsidise electricity production on some 60 islands that are not connected to the grid. More than one- third of this amount is allocated to the island of Crete, where demand soars during the six-month tourist season.
By comparison, Spain spends 1.45 billion euros on subsidising electricity plants burning fossil fuels on the Canary Islands and the Balearics, where demand is similarly high because of the tourist industry.
Greece’s off-grid islands are served either by diesel power plants or by a submarine cable from a hub island, backed up by a local diesel unit. A submarine cable from Crete to mainland Greece is under construction but the project is running behind schedule with completion now due in 2020. Another dozen small islands in the central Aegean will eventually be linked to the mainland grid through hubs on Paros, Syros and Mykonos.
Wind and solar power has an increasing share of the energy mix on non-interconnected islands, with almost 100 wind farms and 1,750 ground-based solar units in operation, providing about 20% of installed capacity. On Crete, more than 30% of electricity output is produced by wind parks and photo- voltaic units.
Many of Greece’s off-grid islands are relatively isolated, making them suitable for testing new energy technologies and services. Some will become a platform for pilot projects in the “clean island’ initiative. “Smart” island projects to increase the role of renewables in electricity production would be implemented by private investors and partially funded by the EU.
HEDNO, the state electricity distributor for the non-connected islands, is optimistic that a number of small Aegean islands can become self-sufficient in energy production, and serve as international models for the sustainable operation of larger inter-connected systems.