Richard Branson’s Necker Island and Alcatraz are just the tip of the iceberg – THEnergy Launches Online Platform for Renewable Energy on Island Locations
Islands have to deal with highly elevated electricity costs because it is very expensive to transport fuel. Normally, smaller islands are powered by diesel-gensets that pollute the air and are very noisy. Tourism plays an important role on many islands. Wind and solar energy can reduce direct air pollution and the noise level to a large extent. In addition, islands are particularly exposed to the consequences of climate change and many island communities strive to serve as an example in the fight against global warming.
It is no surprise renewable energy applications are of special interest for islands. A huge number of pilot projects for both wind and solar power plants, have already been realized – amongst many others a PV-diesel hybrid installation on the Alcatraz prison island and a PV-Wind-Diesel hybrid plant on Richard Branson’s private Necker Island. In comparison to the total untapped potential this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Many advantages of renewable energy have not been fully communicated, which is why island decision makers are paying more and more attention to renewable energy topics. There is a significant demand for information on both sides.
“The objective of THEnergy is to accelerate the application of renewable energy on islands by providing missing information,” points out Dr. Thomas Hillig, founder of THEnergy. One of the key elements of the Renewables & Islands platform (th-energy.net/islands) is a plant database for wind and solar systems on islands.
“Successful examples of the same application often accelerate the spread of a technology. They eliminate existing doubts to a large extent,” explains Hillig. By using the platform, island communities, tourism entities or private island owners can learn about renewable energy players that are already experienced in this field.
The platform also collects background information such as technical overviews and business models. Regularly, reports and white papers will be published. Finally, a blog allows for discussions among experts and players that are new to the field.
The best business case can be observed for hybrid power plants. These are solar or wind power systems that are combined with or integrated into existing diesel power plants. On islands, wind and solar energy are often more than 75% less expensive than electricity from diesel, especially in remote areas where transportation accounts for a large share of the total diesel cost.