El Hierro, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, has achieved what it called a world record by running on renewable energy for 18 consecutive days thanks to its innovative plant at Gorona del Viento that uses a hydroelectric pump plant to “store” generation from a wind park.
The feat of staying 100% green was attained from January 25 to February 12. The plant’s operator said that the achievement was due not to better wind conditions but the gradual ramping up of the facility.
The power plant is “not only a new system but innovative for its time, which means that we cannot rely on other experiences and the operation and integration is gradual,” said Belén Allende, chairwoman of the company that runs the plant.
The new power plant enabled El Hierro to source half of its power needs from renewable sources in 2017, a figure that rose to 66% in January of this year. “Today we stopped being at 100% but we have gone on to cover 70% of the island’s electricity demand, which until recently was considered unattainable,” added Allende.
El Hierro has run on 100% renewable energy for 560 hours so far in 2018 and for almost 2,000 hours since it started operating as a commercial system in June 2015. The plant has avoided the emission of more than 30,000 tons of CO2 and has saved on consumption of a “huge” amount of diesel.
Allende pointed out that the investment in the power plant contributed to the island’s reputation as an eco-friendly destination and attracted “professionals in the energy field, students, institutional managers and a multitude of people who travel to the island interested in the project.”
Other islands, including Cape Verde, are looking to replicate the Spanish facility.