Wind has enabled the Canary Island of El Hierro to cover all of its electricity demand with renewable energy from 13 July to 7 August and has thus reached the milestone of covering its electricity needs for more than 24 days using 100% clean generation, exceeding the previous record that was set between 15 July and 2 August 2018.
During this uninterrupted period of 596.3 hours, the Gorona del Viento hydroelectric power station, with an installed wind power capacity of 11.5 MW, was the main source of electricity generation on the island. So far in 2019, 53.8% of total demand on El Hierro has been covered by non-fossil fuel energy sources.
Red Eléctrica de España, operator of the island’s electricity system, and the company ‘Gorona del Viento El Hierro, S.A.’ collaborate closely to include operational improvements that enable the maximum use of renewable resources, such as wind and water and thus optimise their management.
Hydroelectric power stations combine wind generation with pumped storage hydroelectric generation, as it uses part of the energy produced with wind to pump water to a reservoir upstream so that it can subsequently be used to move hydro power turbines, in order to make the most of renewable sources of electricity generation. Gorona del Viento is currently the only power station installed in Spain with these characteristics and it represents a clear opportunity to reduce dependence on fossil fuels in small electricity systems such as that of El Hierro, which in 2018 registered an average demand of 114.9 MWh per day.
El Hierro: integration of renewable energy has been growing since 2015
The operational improvements are made evident as they have helped to cover coverage using 100% renewable energy for 596.3 consecutive hours, a situation that first occurred on 9 August 2015, though on said date it lasted for 2 hours. Since the beginning of 2019, demand on the island has been covered with 100% renewable energy for a total of 1,119.56 hours. Overall, since 2015, a total of 5,171.6 hours has been covered with clean energy.
Gorona del Viento began operating at full capacity in July 2015 and since then it has been a key facility for the integration of renewable generation in the electricity system of the island of El Hierro. Prior to its commissioning in 2014, renewables accounted for only 2.2% of the coverage of the demand on El Hierro.
Although in 2015 the power station was only fully operational during the second half of the year, its renewable energy contribution to the coverage of the annual demand reached 19.5%. Since then, the percentages have progressively increased and in 2016, the first full year of operation, it contributed 40.8% to the demand coverage, and in 2017 and 2018 this figure rose to 46.5% and 56.5%, respectively.