Although many islands have access to wave and wind energies, they still struggle to distance themselves from petroleum. As the world moves toward cleaner energy, a focus must be put on building access to green energy for islands.
Indeed, the European Commission’s Clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative (CE4EUIslands), a “central platform for the clean energy transition of the more than 2,200 inhabited European islands” launched in 2017, is working to do just that.
In 2019, European Union (EU) islands consumed petroleum at 100-400% of the price of mainland Europe, bearing a heavy burden on their economy in addition to leading to significant quantities of greenhouse gas emissions.
European islands encompass a population of 16 million, accounting for 4% of the EU’s total population. To help these islands achieve the transition, the European Commission, in collaboration with the European Parliament, launched the Clean Energy for EU Islands secretariat in 2018, a platform to help “citizens, local authorities, businesses, and academic institutions work together to advance the clean energy transition on their island.”
The secretariat enables the collaboration between islands and mainland European institutions to help islands generate their energy sustainably in the long term.
Targets set out by the European Commission include reduced energy costs, increased production of renewable energy, construction of energy storage facilities, and improved energy security through decreased dependence on imports. Those goals will also help create employment, entrepreneurship opportunities, and economic prosperity coupled with self-sufficiency.
Signatories of the initiative, aside from the European Commission, include 14 European countries with substantial islander populations, namely Croatia, Greece, Italy, and Spain.
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One of the success stories is La Palma’s Clean Energy Transition Agenda.
La Palma, part of the Canary Islands, has been actively working towards a clean energy transition. The Platform for a New Energetic Model (Px1NME), a citizen-led initiative, was established in 2012 to promote clean energy and raise awareness about the negative impacts of current energy practices. La Palma Renovable, supported by Px1NME and the island’s government, has been instrumental in promoting sustainability through projects such as renewable energy initiatives, carbon footprint calculations, and support services for families facing energy poverty.
La Palma Renovable is actively encouraging the growth of the Energía Bonita insular energy community. They have planned multiple renewable energy projects, including distributed photovoltaic collective self-consumption plants with a combined capacity of 2MWp. In addition, the community will have a shared fleet of electric vehicles, aiming to enhance efficiency and sustainability in citizen mobility throughout the island.
On June 7, CE4EUIslands’ Island Forum started in Saaremaa island, Estonia. Energy experts from over ten countries gathered to discuss the future of the energy transition and share their experiences. This is the third annual forum, the first taking place in 2021.
On June 8, the CE4EUIslands announced a call for 30 renewable islands by 2030. These islands will benefit from mainland European support to achieve 100% renewable energy sources (RES) by 2030.
Support from the secretariat will come in the following ways:
- Tailor-made support to the 30 islands spread over a three-year period
- Technical assistance aimed at implementing actions and projects for 100% RES
- Focus on finalising a set of bankable projects and assisting the islands with finding financing
- Capacity building with thematic workshops and training
Islands are suffering a geographical disadvantage for the importation of clean energy. Helping them achieve the transition to renewable energy sources must therefore become a priority.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Island in Iceland Featured Photo Credit: Markus Laanisto