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Autonomous Energy System for Remote Islands Solution by: The Government of El Hierro, Endesa and the Canary Islands Technological Institute

The island of El Hierro has established self-sufficient energy production using a major hydro-wind system to electrify the whole island.

The Triple Bottom Line

Environmental Before the energy project, El Hierro was importing and burning 6,000 tons of diesel per year, emitting 18,700 tons of carbon dioxide.

Social Residents, farming cooperatives, fruit and fish canneries and the 60,000 tourists who visit every year will have a reliable electricity and water supply for all activities.

Economic The energy partnership expects to generate over $5 million a year in electricity sales, and save almost $2.5 million a year in diesel imports.

The island of El Hierro has five wind turbines with a combined installed capacity of 11.5 megawatts, catering for the majority of electricity demand on the island. Surplus energy when wind production exceeds demand is used to pump water from a reservoir at the bottom of a volcanic cone to another reservoir 700 meters above sea level. When energy demand rises, the water is released to four hydroelectric turbines to create the electricity needed. Further excess electricity is used to desalinate water at the island’s three desalination plants, delivering almost three million gallons of water a day, enough for all drinking water and part of the island’s irrigation needs. Why a Sustainia100 solution? Islands confront some of the most difficult energy challenges. Their size and remoteness means they pay extremely high energy costs for often unreliable and dirty energy. Yet many islands are blessed with large amounts of sun, wind, and water, making renewable energy a promising solution. The El Hierro energy project generates three times the island’s basic energy needs, thereby serving as a role model for other islands.

Developed: Spain

Upper reservior

Deployed: Spain 

Desalination plant

Pumping station

Lower reservior


Hydropower station

Sustainia100 2014