How A Small Spanish Island Became A Renewable Energy Pioneer

Environmental Affairs

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. One small island off the coast of Africa has embraced these resources, most notably through an innovative hybrid hydro-wind system.

The smallest and most remote of Spain’s Canary Islands, El Hierro (pop. 10,700) is a land of lava-sculpted rocks, cliff-lined shores and crystal-clear waters. It is a diver’s paradise, yet remains relatively untouched by tourism. In the early 1980s, the island took its first environmental stance, opting for a development model based on respect for the island’s heritage and conserving its natural resources. “At the time, these guidelines seemed to be in contradiction to the social and economic dynamics of the Canary Islands that were…

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