A tiny Spanish island with just 10,000 residents is about to do something amazing. El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands, plans to completely sever ties with the traditional power grid and move entirely to renewable energy. The island plans to become completely self sufficient next month when its 11.5 megawatt wind farm kicks into gear. El Hierro already has a water turbine that generates electricity, and the added wind power will enable the island to go totally off-grid.
Image via Jose Mesa
We wrote about El Hierro a few years ago when the island announced its plans to move over to renewable energy. In the meantime, the island has been busy at work implementing its ideas and is finally ready to make the shift. Between the water turbines and the new wind farm, the island will have enough power for all of its residential needs – including the water desalinization plants on the island – by the end of next month, with enough extra to ensure electricity even if the wind dies down.
The island actually generates enough power for its residential needs with just the water turbines, but the wind power allows El Hierro to have a little extra power, which will be used to pump fresh water from near the harbor on the island to a reservoir in a volcanic crater 2,300-feet above the sea. When there is not enough wind for electricity needs, that water will be released to feed down into the water turbines to generate more energy, so the island will always have enough power to keep things running.
Lead image via Wikimedia Commons