Islands are one of the most expensive places in the world to produce electricity, due to their remoteness from mainland power sources. Many island nations rely on diesel fuels to power the islands, which is not only incredibly expensive, but also equally terrible for the environment. The Canary Islands off the coast of Northern Africa are no exception, but they have been looking for alternative ways to produce electricity.
Unlike other islands, the Canary Islands have not been looking towards typical renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar power, to build their electricity production. The Canary Islands have instead been looking at harnessing the energy from ocean waves to power newly built wave facilities and harness electricity for the island.
On the Canary Islands, most of the diesel fuel is used to run desalination plants for fresh drinking, cooking, and bathing water. Having fresh water is also vital to support the 15 million annual tourists that visit the Canary Islands. Without fresh water, tourism – one of the main sources of income on the islands – would drop off drastically and hurt the economy.
Seabased, a Swedish wave energy company, is working in the Canary Islands to produce their first wave-powered plant. This wave energy installation will be able to produce 5 megawatts of electricity, which would be enough to power all of the desalination plants on the islands. This would result in clean water at a much lower cost to the islands, and would also have enormous environmentally benefits, such as a huge cut back on the usage of diesel fuels.
Oscar Sanchez, one of the owners of the largest private companies on the island, trusts that this move toward wave-powered electricity will be good for his business and for the economy of the Canary Islands.
“We have slightly less than 3,000 square miles of land mass and it makes perfect sense to get our power from the waves. I see enormous potential of using wave energy not just for specific projects, like desalination, but ultimately to provide power for hotels and the grid itself, which should be less expensive than fossil fuels," says Sanchez.
The CEO of Seabased, Øivind Magnussen, believes that the success of this wave energy installation could be replicated and expanded for other islands and countries around the world.
Infocom Connect from the United Arab Emirates has already begun working with other island nations to discuss reproducing similar installations and make renewable energy sources widespread in the Caribbean. With more renewable energy projects spreading around the globe, there is hope that civilization can begin to depend on renewable energies more than fossil fuels for the first time in history.
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