Thursday, 14 March 2019 09:45

Gran Canaria Heading Towards A Sustainable Energy Future

Windmills along the east coast of Gran Canaria at sunset Windmills along the east coast of Gran Canaria at sunset

Gran Canaria plans to reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels by tapping its natural solar, wind and geothermal energy potential. We hope that it is just a matter of time before Gran Canaria becomes energy independent and doesn't have to burn hydrocarbons to keep the lights on.


It may seem ridiculous that Gran Canaria still generates the vast majority of its electricity by burning oil rather than using solar and wind energy. But at the same time, the island relies on tourism and nobody wants to eat their buffet in the dark or take a cold shower. 

This is the big problem with renewable energy; you can't always generate it in the right amounts at the right time; there is no solar power generation at night for example, and the wind can drop for days on end. 

Gran Canaria¡s giant water battery

Gran Canaria plans to get around this with what is basically a vast battery. The island will use wind energy to pump water from the vast Soria reservoir up to the Chira reservoir. Then it will release the water into a steep tunnel with turbines to generate power when needed. 

This is a neat way to store energy and may also allow Gran Canaria to pump recycled water from the coast back up into the mountains where it can be used for agriculture. 

Work starts on the Soria Chira Central Hidroeléctrica Reversible plant in 2019 or 20120 and it is expected to generate up to 40% of the island's electricity. 

Gran Canaria geothermal energy: It's hot down there

The rocks deep under the south and east of Gran Canaria are hot enough for geothermal energy generation. The easiest way to do this is to pump water down into the earth in a closed pipe until it turns into steam and then use the steam to drive turbines and generate electricity. 

Geothermal energy in Gran Canaria is in its infancy but experts hope that the first power generation plants will start in the next few years thanks to private investment. 

The vast potential of solar energy

Solar energy is the area where Gran Canaria behind the curve. With more sunny days and longer sunshine hours than anywhere else in Europe, Gran Canaria should be leading the way. However, bizarre Spanish laws that banned home energy generation stopped people from installing solar panels. 

This is likely to change fast now that the rules no longer apply to the Canary Islands. 

Gran Canaria's CERN: The PLOCAN platform

As you drive north towards Las Palmas you can't miss the huge PLOCAN platform floating just off the coast opposite the Terrazas and El Mirador shopping centres. This vast structure extends deep under the surface and is a giant floating laboratory created to test all sorts of marine technology. It plays a big role in testing the latest wave power generators and undersea energy transport systems. 

It's a huge floating reminder of the vast potential for renewable energy in Gran Canaria. 


Published in Alternative Tourism

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