In November last year I wrote a post on the Gorona del Viento plant on the island of El Hierro in the Canaries, an innovative renewable energy project that uses a pumped hydro system to supply dispatchable power to the grid and surplus power from a wind farm to keep the pumped hydro reservoirs topped up. Gorona del Viento was in the news at the time because it had just been commissioned and was being hailed as an example of how renewable energy could be made to supply 100% of energy needs on a remote island. The graphic below recaps the plant layout:
Gorona del Viento plant layout. The wind turbines have a capacity of 11.5 MW and the pumped hydro plant a capacity of 11.3MW. The Llanos Blancos diesel plant, which has historically provided the island’s electricity, consists of seven diesel-fired units (one mobile) ranging in size from 0.78MW to 2MW and aggregating 11.78MW. Average demand on the island is about 5.4MW and peak demand about 7.6MW.
And after having succeeded in supplying 100% of El Hierro’s power for two consecutive hours between 12.25 and 14.25 on August 9th, 2015 (the claims of four consecutive hours are incorrect) Gorona del Viento is now back in the news:
For four hours from 12 noon on Sunday August 9, the Gorona del Viento wind-hydro power station generated all the electricity for the tiny island of 10,000 inhabitants using clean energy – the culmination of a project that began 30 years ago.
“This is a relevant fact for locals, Europe and the planet. We prove that it is possible to achieve 100% of green energy in an isolated region by boosting renewables and ditching fossil fuels.”
El Hierro, one of the Canary Islands, has turned off its diesel engines. The island is set to be run entirely on wind power from this week.
Well, El Hierro hasn’t turned off its diesel engines quite yet. On August 30, 2015, the last day for which I have data, 74% of the island’s electricity came from diesel generation. Nor is it set to be run entirely on wind power. In fact it won’t be for some time, if ever.