Reserva de Biosfera de El Hierro



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La primera isla del mundo 100% energías renovable

Logo del Proyecto Europeo El Hierro 100% RES

Presentation of El Hierro 100% RES Project
Tomás Padrón, President of the "El Hierro Island Council"

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The Cabildo de El Hierro (Island Government) took its stance in the early eighties, opting for an original and pioneering development model based on respect for our island heritage, revitalising and conserving our natural resources and fostering co-operation and collaboration among our industries. At the time, these guidelines seemed to be in contradiction with the social and economic dynamics of the Canary Islands that were seeking to attract mass tourism built on a foundation of a spectacular real estate business. It now gives us great satisfaction to be able to say that we have seen that the road chosen by the people of El Hierro was the right one and we are proud of living in harmony with a natural habitat that has remained largely unaffected by the hand of man.

This change that the island of El Hierro has been undergoing for several decades is based on the following factors: a commitment to the primary sector as the main contribution to conserving our identity and our landscape, the creation of basic infrastructures, improved communications, both within and beyond the island boundaries, with investments in communications facilities and, most of all, the conviction that an environmentally friendly and sustainable development model could be implemented on this island.

In this sense, the Cabildo of El Hierro, was the first in the Canary Islands that dared to talk of “sustainability”, and the first to adopt a Sustainable Development Plan, in 1997, a step that was rewarded and ratified by UNESCO, when the entire island was declared a World Biosphere Reserve and, in turn helped to push through the El Hierro Island Planning Regulations (PIOH, from its initials in Spanish) and the urban planning regulations for the two municipal districts that El Hierro is divided into.

This strategic framework lays the foundations for implementing specific Projects in El Hierro, based on integral and sustained development, sensitive to the geo-spatial singularities and characteristics of the island, taking an extra-insular view and designed to bring the local economy into harmony with the environment and the quality of life of the inhabitants of the island of El Hierro, as this is the objective that we are determined to attain.

The, “EL HIERRO 100 % Renewable Energies”, Project will make our island the first in Europe to be supplied with renewable energies, turning it into a worldwide benchmark in implementing energy self-sufficiency and autonomy systems based on clean energy sources. We have also reached a landmark, developing and providing content for our letter of introduction as a World Biosphere Reserve.

The mainstay of our plan to provide renewable energies is the construction of a HYDRO-WIND POWER STATION.

The island of El Hierro has sufficient wind potential to cover all its electricity demand. A study of the wind potential of the island (only considering the places where wind turbines could be located) calculated that wind energy could cover 158% of current demand for electricity.

The Canary Island electricity act, however, sets a limit of 12% market share for wind energy. This constraint is due to the problems of electricity stability associated with wind generation.

One method of realising the full potential of wind power would be to store this energy.

A hydro-wind power station is a water pumping station, in which the water is pumped with wind energy. It consists of using wind power to pump water up to an upper reservoir to harness the potential energy of the fall of the water with a hydraulic turbine.
On the island of El Hierro, conditions are ideal for this project. Apart from the enormous wind power potential that has been mentioned, the island also has a rugged terrain and a low electricity demand in comparison with the other islands of the Canary Archipelago (the island of Gran Canaria had 744.93 MW of installed power in 1999).

According to studies conducted by the Canary Island Government, this Hydro-Wind Power Station would make a saving of some 6,000 tonnes of diesel fuel (the fuel used in the El Hierro fuel burning power station) per year (which is the equivalent of over 4,000 barrels of oil that would no longer have to be imported by ship and would represent a saving of over 1.8 million euros a year on the diesel oil bill). From the point of view of the environment, it would reduce CO2 emissions into the air by 19,000 tonnes a year (it would require a forest of between 10,000 and 12,000 hectares – more than 20,000 football fields – to absorb this amount of CO2). It would also reduce the emissions of SO2 by some 100 tonnes a year, NOx by 400 tonnes (NOx that would be emitted in the exhaust gases of 1,000 buses driving round the island of El Hierro more than 5,500 times each) and some 7 tonnes of particles a year (equivalent to the particles emitted by 1,000 buses driving around the island of El Hierro 280 times each).
As we cross the threshold of the 21st century, El Hierro will become the first European island to cover its energy needs with clean and renewable energies, clearly opting for a development model based on conserving the environment.

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