Is 100% Renewable Energy a Dream?
The Case of El Hierro
Nowadays more and more households and companies, at a micro level, and countries, at a macro level, choose to turn to renewable energy sources as an efficient alternative to traditional energy sources. The enthusiasm surrounding renewable energy is encouraging the need to substitute older technologies and hope for a complete green energy takeover. This is what happened in a small Spanish island belonging to the Canarian archipelago, namely El Hierro that has become an example of a self-sufficient and energy independent country that uses a hybrid system exploiting both eolic and hydropower. This system is called Gorona del Viento.
How Does Gorona del Viento Work?
This system is comprised of five big windmills and two lakes that are used to produce electricity. When the wind blows, its power is harnessed to produce as much energy as possible, but when it is not, the water from the lakes is used to generate hydropower. The system works in a way that always maximises its efficiency and always makes the best out of the energy available. For example, when energy demand is low as it happens during the night, energy is used to move the water to a higher level, to a volcanic crater or to desalinate sea-water that can be then used both for domestic use and agriculture.
What are the Next Green Steps for El Hierro?
There are three main initiatives that the El Hierro government would like to take in order to further develop its green path. The first change concerns switching to electric cars whose batteries will be powered by Gorena del Viento system. In this way, the government attempts to connect all the elements in the system and make them work by using the power generated by the hybrid system implemented in El Hierro. Another initiative includes a turn to solar panels to be installed on households roofs transforming them into independent energy producing units. Furthermore, El Hierro government aims at converting the fields into organic production by using biodigesters to transform waste into inputs.