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  1. 28 Apr '14 10:46 / 2 edits
    This is yet more proof, as if any where needed, that it definitely IS both possible and cost effective to go totally renewable energy and I don't mean only for electric grid because even all their vehicles are going to be electric!. They have also worked out a simple way to get around the fact that wind is fickle (see where I highlighted it below ) -they use hydroelectric - so no need for the currently expensive off-the-grid batteries which, incidentally, is gradually becoming cheaper and will surely offer yet another cost effective way to store energy off-the-grid in the near future.
    Good for them!
    They have shown at least one way it can be done -the rest of the world is gradually running out of excuses.
    I don't see how anyone, including climate warming deniers, could possibly criticize them for doing this, can you?
    Check out the impressive pictures of the machinery and infrastructure to make this work:

    http://www.redhotpawn.com/board/newthread.php?forumid=393

    "...
    The smallest and least known of Spain's Canary Islands, El Hierro, is making a splash by becoming the first island in the world fully energy self-sufficient through combined water and wind power.

    A wind farm opening at the end of June will turn into electricity the gusts that rake the steep cliffs and green mountains of the volcanic island off the Atlantic coast of Africa.

    Its five turbines installed at the northeastern tip of El Hierro near the capital Valverde will have a total output of 11.5 megawatts—more than enough power to meet the demand of the island's roughly 10,000 residents and its energy-hungry water desalination plants.

    Although other islands around the world are powered by solar or wind energy, experts say El Hierro is the first to secure a constant supply of electricity by combining wind and water power and with no connection to any outside electricity network.

    Surplus power from the wind turbines will be used to pump fresh water from a reservoir near the harbour to a larger one at volcanic crater located about 700 metres (2,300 feet) above sea level.

    When there is little or no wind, the water will be channelled down to the lower reservoir through turbines to generate electricity in turn.


    "This system guarantees us a supply of electricity," said the director of the Gorona del Viento wind power plant, Juan Manuel Quintero who is supervising final tests before the plant starts functioning in a few weeks.

    The plant will account for 50 percent of the island's electricity demand when it is officially inaugurated at the end of June, a figure that will rise to 100 percent over the following months.

    The scheme will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 18,700 tonnes per year and eliminate the island's annual consumption of 40,000 barrels of oil.

    El Hierro will maintain its fuel oil power station as a back up, just in case.
    'World pioneer'

    The island is cited as a pioneering project by IRENA, the international organisation for renewable energy, and other experts such as Alain Gioda, a climate historian at France IRD science research institute.

    "The true novelty of El Hierro is that technicians have managed, without being connected to any national network, to guarantee a stable production of electricity, that comes 100 percent from renewable energy, overcoming the intermittent nature of the wind," he said.

    El Hierro's wind power plant has sparked interest from other islands seeking to follow its example.

    Officials from Aruba, Hawaii, Samso in Denmark, Oki in Japan, and Indonesia have all shown interest.

    "It is a project which is considered at the world level as a pioneer and it is one of the most important in the production of renewable energy," said the president of island's local council, Alpidio Armas.

    "El Hierro can be a sort of laboratory," he added, providing an example to other islands around the world which are home to around 600 million people.

    El Hierro, the westernmost of Spain's Canary Islands, has also been invited to present its project at several international conferences, including in Malta and South Korea.


    Electric vehicles

    El Hierro wants to extend its environmental credentials even further by ensuring that by 2020 all of its 6,000 vehicles are run on electricity thanks to an agreement with the Renault-Nissan alliance.

    The wind power plant cost 80 million euros ($110 million) to build.

    The island authorities own 60 percent of the plant, with 30 percent held by Spanish energy company Endesa—a subsidiary of Italian group Enel—and 10 percent by a local technology institute.

    "We wanted to be the owners of the majority of the plant. That means that the profits as well as the possible losses, that is the destiny of Gorona del Viento, is the responsibility of the residents of the island," said Armas.

    Revenues from the plant will boost the island's budget by about one to three million euros per year, he said.

    "These are revenues that can go to the local residents, to subsidise water prices, infrastructure, social policies," he said.

    El Hierro, designated by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve with 60 percent of its territory of 278 square kilometres (107 square miles) protected to preserve its natural diversity, also hopes its green energy drive will draw visitors interested in nature and science.

    "We cannot turn down the benefits that tourism brings, but we don't want mass tourism," said Armas.

    ..."
  2. 28 Apr '14 11:06
    Originally posted by humy
    This is yet more proof, as if any where needed, that it definitely IS both possible and cost effective to go totally renewable energy and I don't mean only for electric grid because even all their vehicles are going to be electric!. They have also worked out a simple way to get around the fact that wind is fickle (see where I highlighted it below ) -they use hy ...[text shortened]... turn down the benefits that tourism brings, but we don't want mass tourism," said Armas.

    ..."
    Good for them! I wish them good luck in their efforts!
  3. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    28 Apr '14 15:07
    Originally posted by humy
    This is yet more proof, as if any where needed, that it definitely IS both possible and cost effective to go totally renewable energy and I don't mean only for electric grid because even all their vehicles are going to be electric!. They have also worked out a simple way to get around the fact that wind is fickle (see where I highlighted it below ) -they use hy ...[text shortened]... turn down the benefits that tourism brings, but we don't want mass tourism," said Armas.

    ..."
    Wonder why they didn't include solar in the mix? All of this is pretty simple technologically speaking since it is only about 16 kilometers by 16 kilometers or so, making it easy to distribute the electricity generated.

    In the US there is a huge problem with distribution of power. The places most energy efficient in terms of wind and solar are mostly in the deserts but there is little power infrastructure there to get power from the desert to the cities up north and east.

    That becomes a trillion dollar problem, more expensive than the technology of energy generation on its own.

    That is the estimate, literally 1000 billion dollars to get that energy, terawatts of energy, out of the desert and into the cities.
  4. 28 Apr '14 15:18
    As much as I agree that we need to tackle global warming urgently by de-carbonising
    our economies...

    What works for a small community/island is not necessarily scalable or effective
    for everyone.

    Iceland is making great strides towards being 100% carbon free by utilising geothermal
    energy... But not everyone is lucky enough to live on an island made up almost entirely
    of active volcanoes.

    I think what these guys are doing is great, and I absolutely agree that it's possible and
    practical to de-carbonise the worldwide economy.


    But that is a challenge of a different scale and nature from de-carbonising one small island.
  5. 28 Apr '14 15:24
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    As much as I agree that we need to tackle global warming urgently by de-carbonising
    our economies...

    What works for a small community/island is not necessarily scalable or effective
    for everyone.

    Iceland is making great strides towards being 100% carbon free by utilising geothermal
    energy... But not everyone is lucky enough to live on an isla ...[text shortened]...

    But that is a challenge of a different scale and nature from de-carbonising one small island.
    Running a fossil-free electricity grid is not as hard as it appears. Norway runs almost entirely on hydro, Sweden uses mainly a combination of hydro and nuclear, and France runs almost entirely on nuclear power.
  6. 28 Apr '14 16:05
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Running a fossil-free electricity grid is not as hard as it appears. Norway runs almost entirely on hydro, Sweden uses mainly a combination of hydro and nuclear, and France runs almost entirely on nuclear power.
    Hydro actually emits large quantities of methane...

    However I agree that running a fossil fuel free grid is perfectly doable.

    It's just that pointing to small communities and saying "look they can do it"
    doesn't work because the technologies and problems don't scale.
    That is the nature of the costs and technical challenges on a small scale
    project are not the same as those for large countries/continents.

    I think for big western countries the something like French model, of 80% nuclear
    [+ 20% renewable] is the way to go... With the precise numbers varying with
    the availability of different renewables. By using molten salt reactors we can
    not only eliminate any real risk of serious nuclear accident/meltdown... But they
    also eat nuclear waste and nuclear bombs, and thus can be used to usefully
    generate huge amounts of zero carbon power AND deal with our already present
    nuclear waste problem.


    I absolutely support going carbon free... It's just I think Humy gets a little too
    over enthusiastic on occasions about these stories... Which comes back to bit
    him in the posterior when a denialist makes the valid response that [in this instance
    as an example] the fact that this technology works well on a small scale doesn't
    necessitate that it will work as well or cheaply ect ect on the large scale.

    It's easy [for example] to have large amounts of excess wind generation for a tiny community
    which can be stored for use when the wind isn't blowing.

    It's much harder and more expensive to do so for a large country.
  7. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    28 Apr '14 16:39
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Running a fossil-free electricity grid is not as hard as it appears. Norway runs almost entirely on hydro, Sweden uses mainly a combination of hydro and nuclear, and France runs almost entirely on nuclear power.
    Wonder what plans are in place in France when they need to deal with nuclear waste? That is going to come back to bite them in the ass in a few decades.
  8. 28 Apr '14 16:48
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Wonder what plans are in place in France when they need to deal with nuclear waste? That is going to come back to bite them in the ass in a few decades.
    They are currently building a large underground repository.

    They would be better off building a new generation of molten salt reactors.
  9. 28 Apr '14 16:56 / 7 edits
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    Hydro actually emits large quantities of methane...

    However I agree that running a fossil fuel free grid is perfectly doable.

    It's just that pointing to small communities and saying "look they can do it"
    doesn't work because the technologies and problems don't scale.
    That is the nature of the costs and technical challenges on a small scale
    pro ...[text shortened]... hen the wind isn't blowing.

    It's much harder and more expensive to do so for a large country.
    If it can work well for a small island, why would it be less cost-effective for a big country?
    Seems to me to be no known significant costs to merely scaling it up here as what they have got on that small island would be what they would have put there if that was a big country -they would have just used more of it.

    If you think about this logically, each big country is made of smaller counties. Each one of those counties can be arbitrarily split up into lots of yet smaller areas using totally imaginary boundaries around each one. Now, if it economically works well on a small scale in most areas, that means it should economically work well for most of those arbitrarily defined small areas that make up that big country. And, if it can be made to economically work well for most of those many arbitrarily defined small areas, that logically means it can be made to economically work well for at least most the whole of the big country. Using similar logic, it should be made to economically work well for whole continents and the whole world.

    If, for whatever reason, making an electric grid that large to distribute the energy is a costly problem, just decentralize it by splitting it up into much smaller independent electric grids -simple!
  10. 28 Apr '14 17:08 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Wonder why they didn't include solar in the mix? All of this is pretty simple technologically speaking since it is only about 16 kilometers by 16 kilometers or so, making it easy to distribute the electricity generated.

    In the US there is a huge problem with distribution of power. The places most energy efficient in terms of wind and solar are mostly in ...[text shortened]... billion dollars to get that energy, terawatts of energy, out of the desert and into the cities.
    Wonder why they didn't include solar in the mix?

    I wondered that! I cannot imagine but, if they later add solar to that mix, that would make it even more reliable and robust and that would be even more fantastic so it seems crazy to me for them to not ever do that.
    I wonder if it is feasible for them to also include current power and wave power electric generation there? and what about geothermal power? there is a volcano there and even extinct volcanoes often have some geothermal power if you drill down deep enough.
  11. 28 Apr '14 18:15
    Originally posted by humy
    If it can work well for a small island, why would it be less cost-effective for a big country?
    Seems to me to be no known significant costs to merely scaling it up here as what they have got on that small island would be what they would have put there if that was a big country -they would have just used more of it.

    If you think about this logically, each bi ...[text shortened]... m, just decentralize it by splitting it up into much smaller independent electric grids -simple!
    heh. Unfortunately it doesn't work like that.

    Lets consider two hypothetical places we want to de-carbonise by utilising
    [for the sake of simplicity] Wind and hydro.
    We generate more peak power then we need with the wind and store the
    excess with the hydro.

    Location A is a small island of 10,000 people.

    Location B is a small country of 100,000,000 people.

    In location A we can generate the required power with 2 wind turbines and 1
    hydro plant.

    Each turbine at full power produces 100% of the islands electricity needs and
    thus the two of them generate 200% at full power. But the wind only blows
    for 50% of the time. The grid is balanced using the hydro storage.


    Location B has the same exact system, but now supplying 10,000 times as many
    people, and so they have 20,000 wind turbines and 10,000 hydro plants.

    Now you might be looking at this and saying that both have the same percentage
    costs, in that each group of 10,000 people has to pay for 2 turbines and one
    hydro plant...

    But the absolute cost of having to have 200% power generation is much higher
    for location B.


    Say a turbine costs $1million.

    The small island is paying an extra $1 million for wind turbines to generate enough
    when it's windy to cover the times when it's calm. This might be unavoidable for
    a scheme to cover such a small area.

    However for the small country they are paying $10 Billion for extra turbines to cover
    the shortfall. Which is in absolute terms a huge sum of money.


    Now if we desimplify the situation the differences get clearer.

    The best place for wind turbines is in the sea, where you get the strongest and most reliable
    winds. The small island is surrounded by sea, and it's not far from the best turbine location
    to where everyone lives because it's not far to anywhere on the small island.

    However in the small country the best location for the turbines is hundreds of miles from
    where most of the people are, so you either need hundreds of miles of electricity grid,
    which requires you to build more turbines to generate enough electricity to make up
    for the shortfall, plus the cost of the grid. Or you need to build the turbines in a non-optimal
    location and thus need more of them to cope with the reduced wind speeds.

    In the small island you only have to deal with maintaining and building 2 turbines, which
    take up little land/sea and cause little local opposition on the grounds of their being an eyesore.

    In the small country you are building arrays of hundreds or even thousands of turbines over
    large areas of land or sea, jamming radar coverage, and acting as an eyesore in the eyes of
    the local residents...



    The list goes on.


    The point is not that it's impossible to build country wide green energy generation.

    The point is that the solutions for big countries don't look like the solutions for small
    islands and isolated communities.

    There are advantages of economies of scale when dealing with large countries and cities
    that small communities and islands can't get... Along with different sets of problems.


    It's the same reason I always get irritated when celebs on tv shows hold up people living in
    isolated country 'off-grid' eco-homes as an example of how we can all live environmentally
    friendly lives... completely missing the fact that if everyone were to try that we would
    wipe the wild places of the world off the map as the hundreds of millions of people living in dense towns
    and cities suddenly all had to grow their own vegetables in their gardens.


    The problems and solutions don't scale well, so you can't hold up an isolated community as
    a demonstration of what works for them would work for the masses.

    As I say, I agree totally that solutions for the masses exist, and are well known... They just
    are not the same solutions as those of small communities.
  12. 28 Apr '14 18:16
    Originally posted by humy
    Wonder why they didn't include solar in the mix?

    I wondered that! I cannot imagine but, if they later add solar to that mix, that would make it even more reliable and robust and that would be even more fantastic so it seems crazy to me for them to not ever do that.
    I wonder if it is feasible for them to also include current power and wav ...[text shortened]... there and even extinct volcanoes often have some geothermal power if you drill down deep enough.
    It might have been cost, they may not have been able to afford solar
    panels as well as a hydro plant and wind turbines and electric cars and
    upgraded infrastructure...
  13. 28 Apr '14 18:19
    Originally posted by humy
    If, for whatever reason, making an electric grid that large to distribute the energy is a costly problem, just decentralize it by splitting it up into much smaller independent electric grids -simple!
    I just wanted to quickly focus on this point.

    The advantage of 'the grid' is it allows for efficiencies of scale.

    You can place large scale generation in optimum locations, and
    transport that power to where it's needed.

    You cannot do local scale generation for large cities, where over half
    the worlds population will soon live.
  14. 28 Apr '14 19:37 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    heh. Unfortunately it doesn't work like that.

    Lets consider two hypothetical places we want to de-carbonise by utilising
    [for the sake of simplicity] Wind and hydro.
    We generate more peak power then we need with the wind and store the
    excess with the hydro.

    Location A is a small island of 10,000 people.

    Location B is a small country of 100, ...[text shortened]... ist, and are well known... They just
    are not the same solutions as those of small communities.
    Points taken and accepted. Wind energy isn't cost-effective everywhere and there is the thorny issue of energy transport.

    When solar power becomes so ultra cheap and efficient that it become cost-effective literally everywhere, I bet this will become less of an issue and solar panels would be put on virtually every roof top including the top of skyscrapers. Although I guess there probably still would not be enough solar energy generated in the cities for the cities ( unless there is truly massive improvements in energy efficiency in all electrical machines ) , I bet that, in most cases, with the help of much cheaper off-the-grid energy storage than that which exists now but which I am sure will be developed, enough solar energy generated in the suburb and area surrounding each city both with solar panels on the roof tops and on roads ( I bet the technology to have solar panels on the roads and with a tough surface resistant to wear from traffic will not be too far off in the future ) could easily give cities most of their energy needs without having to transport the electricity more than ~200km.
  15. 30 Apr '14 09:28
    A question about storing energy in a dam of water in a higher level:

    You need energy when you pump up the water. How many percent of that energy do you get back when you let it down again in a hydro power plant?

    I would think it is quite ineffective process...