Can El Hierro be 100 % electric-renewable?

Foreword

This summer, the media have abundantly reported that the El-Hierro island in the Canaries could now count on a 100 % renewable electric mix. As a matter of fact, these reports were based on only two hours during which the Gorona del Viento (GdV) installation managed to reach the objectives announced in the project document. Full of enthusiasm, Ségolène Royal, the French minister of Environment and Energy, rewarded the project on behalf of the “Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables”

            What is the situation today for this installation inaugurated in June 2014? a considerable investment, leading to a complex system with more than 34 MW of installed production power (diesel, wind and hydraulic turbines, each for about one third) when the peak electric demand is only 7.6 MW that is a factor four less.

            The reality of the performances after six months of effective exploitation: the renewable fraction for the three most favourable months, July to September, has been 42 %. For the half year, the figure is even more disappointing with only 30 % renewables.

            The reasons behind these very modest performances with respect to the announced goal, which, moreover for the year 2015, lead to a considerable cost of the renewable MWh which is going to cost four times more than the MWh produced by the diesel plant and a cost of the avoided CO2 exceeding 1000 €/ton? As shown in this document, they are first the limited wind resource, which according to data could not have allowed a renewable fraction larger than 50 % and second, the nature of the contract signed by the Spanish state which does not encourage GdV to strive for the optimal environmental performances.

            To summarize: unrealistic objectives, deplorable governance and a technical semi-failure very costly for the Spanish citizen.

 

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