sustainable La Palma

La Palma in the European Commission’s pilot plan for a sustainable energy transition

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La Palma, one of the Canary Islands’ gems: sun, volcanoes, wind and sea. No wonder this clash of colour and energy is commonly referred to as “the beautiful island”. And it’s precisely this aspect that has caught the European Commission’s eye when deciding which six European islands to include in their pilot plan for a transition towards renewable energy generation.

Europe pulls for the islands

The Clean Energy for European Islands project is a result of two circumstances: the ever-growing need to fight against global warming and the undeniable variety of energy sources available in the 2,200+ inhabited islands in the EU. These reasons are more than enough to support an action plan that promotes the harnessing of these natural assets.

The list of the 26 islands that will participate in this initiative was published February 18. Out of these islands, 20 of them will have to present their energetic transition plan in the summer of 2020 whereas the other six —the Aran Islands (Ireland), Cres-Lošinj (Croatia), Culatra (Portugal), Salina (Italy), Sifnos (Greece), and, of course, La Palma— will kick off the project with in a pilot phase. This summer, these six territories will have to publish their strategy with measures that lead to self-sufficiency.

A much-needed transformation

The fact that the islands largely depend on petrol (information in Spanish) has motivated the quest for alternative energy sources that are less costly and more eco-friendly. This is why for the past decades, Canarians have been creating awareness on the environmental impact of fossil fuels and have been building renewable energy power plants. On a local level, in La Palma they are already installing public charging stations for electric vehicles. They have also been training and supporting professionals and entrepreneurs who wish to tap into the potential of green energy. An example of this is La Palma Renovable’s insular plan for a new energy culture (PINCE, according to its Spanish abbreviation) (only in Spanish).

PINCE’s main goal is to fight climate change, reduce energy consumption and end the island’s economic dependence. In order to achieve this, the way to go is 100% self-sustainability. Not only would it be favourable to the environment, but also to the people of La Palma due to the fact that it would decrease energy poverty and create new jobs that could improve the local economy and their overall welfare.

Canary Islands at the forefront of green energy

In the Canary Islands, they are committed to transforming the current energy generation and consumption model. For example, in El Hierro they’ve been producing clean energy for over a decade and have spent 18 days straight without consuming fossil fuels. Also, in just a year they’ve avoided releasing 2,700 tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere. For their part, in 2013, Tenerife participated in developing the first PV plant connected in Senegal. These are just some examples of the Canarian initiative in search for sustainable solutions, and La Palma is certainly not lagging behind.

Why La Palma?

La Palma has been known for pulling for technology. Besides having one of the most powerful telescopes on the planet, La Palma has also been a pioneer in the energy industry thanks to the power plant, El Electrón, which was inaugurated in 1893, making it one of the first ones in the world. The now-abandoned power plant was the inspiration for the Electrón Manifesto (only in Spanish), a statement on the steps needed to be carried out to obtain self-sustainability. This document has been unanimously approved by all 14 municipalities and the Cabildo (the insular government).

La Palma is also home to passionate nature lovers who advocate for the preservation of natural spaces. That’s why one of the project’s main goals would be to build alternative power plants while avoiding visual pollution. Solar panels will be installed on existing rooftops and a study on the possibility of using geothermal energy will be carried out.

Support from the European Commission and the presence of companies specialised in renewable and logistic sectors make La Palma the ideal place to invest in sustainable projects and establish business relationships that could catapult technological developments in other markets all over the world.

Now, the exact details of the energy transition plan La Palma will have to present this summer are still unknown. However, based on their repertoire of sustainable initiatives, there’s no doubt that creative solutions for all sectors (government, private companies, schools, etc.) will arise and serve as an example not only for the European community, but for the entire world.

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